Coins for Kids Blends Service, Learning

Aleta Greer's elementary school class in Alpine, Calif., started Coins for Kids.

Share Our Strength will debut a new curriculum for its Coins for Kids program in March that may “make change” in the way students learn about money.
Aleta Greer, an elementary school teacher with the Alpine (Calif.) School District near San Diego, created the program last winter. The idea was to mesh identifying coins with the community service requirement of California’s educational standards. Students brought in spare change to fill plastic tubs, and the money was charted weekly before eventually being donated to SOS’ No Kid Hungry program.
Some of Greer’s students summed up the program with this cute video.
It was only supposed to be a two-week, service-learning project, but the results kept adding up. Coins for Kids eventually grew into a fourth-month campaign that raised $1,522 and the eyebrows of SOS’ program leaders.
The initiative was so smart and successful that the hunger-relief organization included it as a fundraising idea on its youth-action Web site No Kid Hungry2.
Now the nonprofit has charged Greer with developing a formal curriculum that teachers across the nation may implement to make learning – and giving – fun.
“The kids just wanted to keep going,” Greer said. “They made and sold music makers, we had a school-wide fundraising contest between classes and they just really looked forward to graphing their progress on Fridays.
“We started by asking them if they’ve ever been hungry and what that feels like. They had a very strong response.”
Greer got inspired last year while watching “Larry King Live.” Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges was on the show advocating for No Kid Hungry. Greer loved the vision, but saw an opportunity to add the component of kids helping kids.
A 34-year veteran of education, Greer said although it’s hard to know what jobs there will be in 20 years certainly teaching students to think more globally will be important. Coins for Kids teaches a number of skills, she said, including how to be good critical thinkers and collaborators.
Several local businesses got on board as well.
Manana’s, a family restaurant in Alpine, hosted a day where about 25 percent of their proceeds were donated for the cause. The Mission Federal Credit Union also let Greer’s class count its 80 pounds of coins without the standard 10 percent fee.
“We have even bigger plans to involve more businesses this year,” Greer said. “We’re also going to have an ice cream social, a wear orange day and several other things. It’s a lot of fun to see the kids do something selfless and realize the intrinsic job of what it means to help someone else.”
There were a number of inspirational takeaways, Greer said, including a “thank you” video from SOS co-founder Billy Shore. He promised that the money would go to feed as many hungry children as possible. He also urged the children to stay involved in their community.
“In our video you see several students, some of whom are very shy,” Greer said. “There’s also one boy who stutters, but none of them hesitated to participate because it meant so much to them. We had several goals when we started, and No. 1 was helping hungry kids.”
To learn more about starting a Coins for Kids initiative at your school, visit the No Kid Hungry2 Web site and click through “Leaders Tackle Hunger” to the “Fundraise” hyperlink. Also look for the curriculum update in March.

 

Child Hunger Facts:
• More than 16 million kids in America struggle with hunger. (Source: USDA Household Food Security in the United States). That’s one in five kids or over 21% of all kids.
• 10.6 million kids who are eligible for free or reduced-price school breakfast do not get it. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, School Breakfast Scorecard)
• 19 million kids get a free or reduced-price school lunch on an average school day. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, School Breakfast Scorecard)
• Five out of six eligible kids do not get free summer meals. (Source: Food Research and Action Center, “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report”
• 40.3 million people in America got help through SNAP (food stamps) in 2010; half of them (20.1 million) were children. (Source: USDA Food and Nutrition Services)
• 15.5 million children in America live in poverty. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports).
Source: Share Our Strength

McDonald’s Supports Hunger Relief

The festivities have begun for McDonald's Supplier of the Year day at Tyson Foods

$500K Grant Will Provide Meals to Children in Need

Thursday the corporate campus at Tyson Foods celebrated being named McDonald’s USA’s 2010 Supplier of the Year. But there’s something even more important to cheer about.
The honor was primarily earned by the enhanced cost savings, increased sustainable supply and food safety standards that our food service group is delivering.
As a McDonald’s supplier for nearly 30 years, we’re proud to help McDonald’s serve its 26 million customers daily with wholesome food and quality service. Even though yesterday was about celebrating this great partnership, we’d be remiss to not also recognize the incredible work this trusted restaurant brand does through its Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Just this March, RMHC donated $500,000 to Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization. The funds are being used to help provide nutritious food, groceries and meals to children living at risk of hunger. Feeding America’s BackPack Program, Kids Cafe, Afterschool Nutrition Program and School Pantries are all benefitting.
We learned with the March release of our hunger perceptions study that one in four Americans worry they won’t be able to put food on the table sometime this year. The study, conducted with the Food Research and Action Center, also found a significant number of children under the age of 18 live in households affected by food insecurity.
RMHC, a non-profit corporation, focuses on improving the health and well being of children directly through its own core programs. But we’re especially proud to see our great partner make such a significant impact for America’s food banks.
Thanks for your generosity McDonald’s. We’re Lovin’ It!

So what exactly is “hunger?”

We’re in the process of doing some research about attitudes and perceptions of hunger.  More details to come, but it’s a bit of follow-up on some of the informal research we did last summer with participants of RAGBRAI.   

Last week we watched four different focus groups in two distinctly different parts of the U.S. come together to share their perceptions.

One of the things made clear–and this is not news to those who’ve been involved in the issue for a while–is that we have some  challenges as we use the word “hunger,” especially as it applies to much of the problem in the U.S. 

Many people believe “hunger” should apply only to situations in which there simply is little or no food available.  Sub-Saharan Africa, for example.    

They believe “malnourished,”  “food poverty,”  or the more commonly-used term “food insecurity” are more appropriate to describe the challenge–still quite serious–that we face in our own country.  They believe that when we use the word “hunger,” we create a disconnect that makes mention of the staggering numbers of people affected less believable. 

What do you think?

No Kid Hungry in Arkansas. A beginning.

Share Our Strength Founder and Executive Director Billy Shore announcing the No Kid Hungry in Arkansas initiative

 

Arkansas—our home state—ranks  11th in the U.S. among states for total agricultural production.  Lots of food produced here. 
 
Yet according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, it ranks #1—worst—among states with the highest percentage of children at risk of hunger.
 
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe thinks it’s time something is done to erase that paradox.   That’s why he was very receptive when Share Our Strength approached him this past summer at the National Governors Conference with their No Kid Hungry state strategy.  

Their ensuing discussions resulted in an announcement on Friday of a new partnership focusing on drastically reducing childhood hunger in our home state. 

The collaboration brings parties to the table who have all worked toward alleviating hunger and poverty, yet who’ve never worked together as one before.  The lead agency in the effort, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, which includes all of the state’s major food banks, will help implement Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry strategy.  Other key players include state agencies, such as the Arkansas Department of Human Services; the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services; other non-profit organizations focusing on child welfare and hunger; and private sector partners. 

Because it’s going to take a collaborative effort to achieve this lofty goal.

Wal-Mart generously provided a $150,000 grant to ensure the effort is adequately funded to start.

We were at the announcement with a donation of 180,000 pounds to the state’s six food banks in support of the project. 

The three fundamental components of the strategy:
• Increasing access to public and private programs that provide food to children and their families.
• Strengthening community resources that connect children to healthy food.
• Improving families’ knowledge about available programs and how to get the most from limited resources.

Kudos to Governor Beebe and Share Our Strength for starting this process.  It’s up to all of us to see that it’s successful.

We think you should “like” folks who are doing good work

We’re trying to help The Food Bank for Monterey County (California) get some new friends.  Facebook friends, that is.  So here’s the deal:  For every new “like” they get on their Facebook page for the next week, we’ll give them 100 pounds of food–up to a 30,000 pound truckload. 

All you gotta do is go to their Facebook page, hit the little “like” button at the top, and you’ve donated. 

Don’t use Facebook?  Just leave a comment here and we’ll do the same thing.  Easy enough?

Thanks to uber-connetor Beth Kanter for making the connections and suggestions that got this ball rolling.