Feed the Children & FNS Team Up Through Summer Food & Education Program
Ensuring kids who need nutrition in the summer get it.
By Sarah Ford on June 27, 2014
As one of the largest international charities based in the United States, Feed the Children's mission is to provide hope and resources for those without life's essentials. Everything Feed the Children does in the U.S., or in the 18 countries they serve around the world is mindful of their vision that no child or family goes to bed hungry.
In February 2013, Feed the Children requested a meeting with FNS (Food and Nutrition Services division of the USDA). Feed the Children President & CEO, Kevin Hagan, sat down with them to talk about SNAP outreach and many other things, and how the two organizations could collaborate. Eventually, the conversation settled on the Summer Food & Education Program. FNS works with a host of anti-hunger organizations, state governments, and other entities that distribute and host outreach. They wanted to work with a large spectrum of organizations at all levels, so they didn't choose Feed the Children over someone else, but rather added them to their list of partners.
“Feed the Children is bolstering our Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in a way that’s never been done in Oklahoma and will have a significant impact on addressing childhood hunger in rural communities across the country,” said Audrey Rowe, Administrator, USDA Food and Nutrition Services. “Their commitment to providing consistent, reliable food and education access is as unwavering as ours, and we fully support their efforts in opening the doors to greater access.”
We recently interviewed Feed the Children about this partnership. Below is a Q&A from that conversation:
What Kind of Partnership do You Have with FNS?
This is a unique partnership because it incorporates other smaller partners such as churches, schools, and privately-held businesses (e.g. as host sites for the program). A portion of the summer feeding program we’re doing with them is a pilot project in which we are testing different ways to do summer school feeding, looking for the most cost-effective and efficient methods.
We are also working together to develop a brand new, never-been-tried-before program to bring fresh nutritious locally-grown and affordable food into low-income communities, use behavioral change methodology that has been successful in international programs to help improve the health and nutrition of children in food deserts. This will start later in the year.
What Do You Hope to Accomplish Through This Partnership?
"We want to feed more kids. We want to make sure that kids who need nutrition in the summer are getting it, and we know that right now, they’re not", says Trevor Moe
By working with FNS, we help them reach more children. They need partners on the ground to actually do the feeding. We provide them with the results of our research, how it could work better, and what we’re doing with the private sector to augment it, what are the barriers to kids receiving the summer meals (what we learned about this), and we’re trying to figure out how to make this program work in rural areas (where the gaps are biggest in serving children). It’s very difficult to do this in rural areas because kids are so spread apart and there’s no public transportation or gathering places.
In Oklahoma, there are only 100 sites giving meals in the summer. There’s a huge need, and also a lack of support in this state. Working with FNS connects us with every other entity providing summer meals across the country. It helps us work together with others doing similar work, learn from each other. They also provide us funding (a reimbursement component) which helps us do the feeding in a larger way.
What Have Been the Results so Far?
During the first month we’ve been establishing baseline measures. We launched the program, began developing relationships with the families, trained staff to implement the research, doing outreach to other organizations to see if they are interested in participating, and we are identifying what success looks like – what will we measure and what do we think we want to see? We won’t have results until the end of the summer.
Our thanks to Feed the Children for sharing how their relationship with Food and Nutrition Services division of the USDA got started and what kind of impact they're trying to make in the community! To learn more about the impact Feed the Children is making through their other programs, visit www.feedthechildren.org.