Child Nutrition Initiatives: Ending Child Hunger By 2015
President Obama has challenged the nation to end childhood hunger by 2015. We are working to meet this goal through the Ending Childhood Hunger by 2015 Initiative, which works to increase access to and participation in federal child nutrition programs, and collaborates with other organizations on policy development, advocacy and community outreach strategies.
Specifically, these strategies include efforts to expand participation in school meals, promote the Summer Food Service Program, and engage community-based member programs and the broader New York anti-poverty community in policy development and advocacy work.
Participating in national school and summer meals programs increases students' regular exposure to nutritious food and enables low-income families to allocate more of their budget to rent, clothing and other essentials. But while the National School Lunch Program offers children from low-income households free or reduced-priced school meals, the application process and the stigma associated with being identified as poor act as barriers to participation. Meanwhile, only about a fifth of eligible students participate in school breakfast, which is free for all public school students in New York City.
To address these challenges, the Food Bank convenes the School Meals Coalition, which works to increase participation in school meals by engaging school employees, unions, government officials, community-based organizations, advocates and other stakeholders.
In addition to our work with the coalition, the Food Bank aims to remove barriers to participation in the National School Lunch Program by advocating for universal school meals. To increase participation in New York City' school breakfast program, we conduct school- and community-based outreach to promote alternative models of morning meal delivery (such as "grab and go" breakfast and breakfast in the classroom) that are proven to increase participation but are currently in limited use in New York City.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) serves breakfast and lunch in all low-income neighborhoods during the summer. Children can receive these meals at public schools, public housing developments, parks, pools and some libraries, soup kitchens and community groups.
The Food Bank distributes information about summer meals to community press, emergency food providers in our network and on our website. We monitor the program, identify gaps in availability and advocate for open school sites. During the summer of 2010, Food Bank For New York City provided support to community-based member programs that operated as SFSP sites by placing interns who would assist increasing participation at those sites by doing outreach and creating activities to increase retention.
Engaging Community-Based Member Programs and the New York Anti-Poverty Community
Food Bank For New York City is currently working with network partners and other anti-poverty organizations and advocates to create a hunger policy platform for New York City in response to national goals to end childhood hunger by 2015.