This post was co-written by Signe Anderson.
Increasingly, city governments are partnering with local anti-hunger organizations to reduce child hunger and improve children’s health.
Columbus, Ohio’s Make Summer Count program provides safe places for youth to get free nutritious meals. This summer, children can access these meals through the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department food truck. (photo: Columbus Recreation and Parks Department)
City leaders have found that partnerships with anti-hunger organizations enable them to increase participation in summer meal programs, expand the number of meal sites and provide educational and recreational programming at these sites. Expanding access to meal programs such as the Summer Food Service Program, the School Breakfast Program, the National School Lunch Program and afterschool snack programs is one of the five goals of Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC).
Nearly 500 local elected officials have signed up for LMCTC, which is a major component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s comprehensive Let’s Move! initiative to ensure that kids grow up healthy and are able to pursue their dreams. LMCTC awards medals to participating local elected officials based on their achievements in areas such as promoting healthy habits in early child care settings; expanding access to meal programs before, during and after the school day, and/or over the summer months; and increasing opportunities for physical activity.
Since 2012, NLC has awarded more than 2,500 bronze, silver and gold medals to local elected officials across the country. Over 77 million Americans live in communities participating in LMCTC.
Anti-hunger organizations can support local governments that are looking to join or are already involved in LMCTC. Many participating LMCTC communities, such as Arcata, Calif., and Columbus, Ohio, know firsthand the value of partnering with anti-hunger organizations to create successful summer meal programs:
- Arcata, California: The anti-hunger organization Food for People developed a relationship with Humboldt Transit and UPS to provide meal transportation. With support from the city of Arcata, Food for People helps deliver meals to four summer lunch sites in Arcata, which serve an average of 60 meals each day.
- Columbus, Ohio: There is a thriving partnership between the city of Columbus and the Children’s Hunger Alliance (CHA), an Ohio anti-hunger organization. CHA provides technical assistance to the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, and serves as the ‘eyes and ears’ at the city’s 270 sites. CHA cultivates what Amanda Wampler, Franklin County Summer Nutrition Manager, calls the four “F”s: fun, friends, family and food. CHA’s priority is to incorporate at least one hour of enrichment activities into all city-sponsored meal sites in order to increase retention rates by an average of seven percent. CHA’s initiatives complement Columbus’ commitment to ending child hunger and childhood obesity through participation in LMCTC.
Anti-hunger organizations are a natural partner for cities working to expand children’s access to meal programs, especially summer meal programs. City governments can utilize the expertise of anti-hunger organizations to expand participation in federal meal programs and in developing effective marketing outreach strategies. These organizations often act as connectors between city government, nonprofits and local businesses by facilitating conversations and encouraging coordination of meal planning and outreach efforts.
In addition to helping city programs ensure they are reaching food-insecure children, anti-hunger organizations can also provide technical assistance to local governments on the program application and reimbursement process, food safety requirements, meal planning and program design.
To find out if your city or county is participating in LMCTC, visit the Directory of LMCTC Sites. Share this information with your local government officials so that they can get started and encourage them to partner with local anti-hunger nonprofits. Learn more about LMCTC’s five goal areas.
About the Authors:
Elena Hoffnagle is the Senior Associate for Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties at the National League of Cities. Contact Elena at Hoffnagle@nlc.org.
Signe Anderson is a Senior Child Nutrition Policy Analyst at the Food Research and Action Center. Contact Signe at email@example.com.