No Kid Should Dread the Weekend–or Summer

by Ed Nicholson

Note: I’ve decided to go back and repost some things from years past that are still timely. This one originally posted in June of 2010. It remains relevant as we approach the end of the school year. Ed

As I post this on Friday afternoon, tens of thousands of kids at risk of hunger around the country are being sent home from school with backpacks full of food thanks to innovative programs such as the one Janet Kniffin, Chief Development Officer for the Connecticut Foodbank, describes in the video above. Were it not for these programs, many would go hungry over the weekend, since school lunches are their primary source of nutrition.

Soon school will be out for the summer. What happens then? Many communities have solutions. Many don’t.

Do your local schools have backpack programs? If not, what happens during the summer?

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!

“Like” Arvest For Hunger Relief

It’s tremendous to see a community-centric lender like Arvest Bank launch a hunger relief campaign this week aimed right where help is needed – at the local level.
The Fayetteville-chartered bank started its “1 Million Meals” effort Monday. It’s an incredible pledge to leverage funds and food during the next two months to create one million meals for the needy across the 90 communities Arvest serves in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.
It’s a large and worthy footprint. All four states rate among the Top 11 on the USDA’s food insecurity list.
One of the key findings of a recent hunger-perceptions study commissioned by the Food Research and Action Center and Tyson Foods was that most Americans believe hunger is a problem – just not in their own communities. Yet, one in four Americans worried they would be able to put food on the table for the rest of 2011.
The study was done in conjunction with Tyson Foods’ year-long KNOW Hunger campaign.
Arvest will donate $1 for every “Like” posting on their 1 Million Meals Facebook page. Each $1 will result in five meals.
Arvest will use bank donations, in-branch fundraisers and non-perishable foods drives to fuel donations to food banks and other local organizations.
There are several ways to get involved:
• Customers can donate $1 or more by calling (855) 553-4056, and each dollar donated will help create five donated meals.
• Purchasing a paper plate for $1 at Arvest’s branch locations will support local food partners. Each plate will fund five meals.
• Dropping off non-perishable food items at Arvest branches. They will be delivered to the appropriate local food partner for distribution.
Arvest has also partnered with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the AA-baseball affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. For each donation made at an Arvest branch, the donor will receive $1 off a Naturals game ticket. Donations will also be collected at Arvest Ballpark during the campaign.

Now Let Us Give Thanks

By Ed Nicholson

I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a tremendous family, good health, and live in the best country in the world. Lots for which to be thankful. I also have one of the best jobs in the world. Every day, my job reminds me of how thankful I should be. You see, neither I nor any of my family has ever gone hungry.

While I stand on a high hill watching people being fed, I also get to look in another direction and get a panoramic view of food being grown, produced and taken to market. Because I know how many people and how much work is involved in that process, it’s easy for me to be grateful for the Thanksgiving meal I’ll share with my family this year.

I’m thankful for the farmers, no matter their size and production techniques. Without them, none of us would be fed. Farming’s hard work that takes a commitment that goes way beyond that of simply making a living.

I’m thankful for the people who pick up, process and deliver food to market. Also hard work, often with very thin margins, and certainly no guarantees of success. Some of them are my own teammates, so I get to see up close and personal how passionate they are about feeding people. I’m humbled and honored to be able to share the products of their hard work.

I’m thankful for people in grocery stores, farmer’s markets, restaurants, institutional kitchens, food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens—anywhere food is conveyed to those of us who will consume it.

I’m thankful that we live in a country that produces a bounty of food. I’m hopeful we’ll continue to explore new ways that bounty can be shared among those who don’t have enough. I’m also hopeful that any changes we make in the way we produce food will allow us to continue to feed our country, in addition to many across the globe.

This week, we’re joining hundreds in support of the AgChat Foundation’s #foodthanks effort to give credit to all those who help bring meals to our table year-round. You can join the effort by using your blog, Twitter or Facebook account tomorrow with the #foodthanks hashtag. Find out more by visiting http://foodthanks.com/

Now let us give thanks.

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.