Feed the Children: Nonprofits, Corporations, Government and Community Partners Must Unite to Defeat the Status Quo of Hunger
Oklahoma City, – Feed the Children doesn’t have to look farther than its headquarters’ zip code to recognize that child hunger remains pervasive in America – despite the efforts of the 35-year-old leader in hunger relief and those of countless non-profit groups and government programs. The cruel truth in Oklahoma is that the school lunch program that lower-income families depend on shuts down for the summer break, which means roughly 300,0001 children may be left without a stable source of nutrition.
But this summer, Feed the Children, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and local partners are organizing a new approach to the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in Oklahoma, with Feed the Children serving an additional 115,000 meals, providing children and families food and essentials within the context of a local community program.
“In the past, Feed the Children might have tried to single-handedly create a program to address the structural problems, like summer hunger for kids in Oklahoma, but we’re convinced that collaboration with the government, partner non-profits, schools and churches to unite best ideas are the keys to wiping out childhood hunger,” said Feed the Children CEO Kevin Hagan. “It may take learning by trial-and-error, but together with our like-minded peers, we will defeat the status quo of child hunger.”
Feed the Children this month will introduce a new logo and vision – create a world where no child goes to bed hungry. More important, the non-profit will formalize a new commitment to lead by example, joining cooperative efforts to uncover new methods that, if successful, can be leveraged on a national level – providing hope and resources for those without life’s essentials.
To do this, Feed the Children will introduce a new pilot program: the Oklahoma Summer Food and Education Program. This program is designed to improve the nutrition and health of American children by offering them access to good food and education.
“Feed the Children is seeking opportunities to work together with like-minded organizations to
end child hunger,” said Hagan. “Traditional models of fundraising, communicating, and feeding won’t defeat hunger. To defeat the status quo, we have to find more cost-effective ways to work. We need to prove that they work, and we need to share those discoveries so that others can use them too.”
The Oklahoma Summer Food and Education Program, created in partnership with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), will be tested across Oklahoma this summer to address those children who lose access to free or subsidized meals that are offered during the school year.
While the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) helps fill the gap over the summer, in Oklahoma – Feed the Children’s home state – very few agencies are involved with the summer meals program. Oklahoma has the lowest participation rate in SFSP, ranking 51st in the country. Additionally, Feed the Children will be looking at evidence-based approaches to address the barriers for children who are unable to have access to nutritious meals in the summer. In partnership with the USDA FNS, the program provides:
• Better Access to Meals: To give families longer-term support – and meals that can be consumed at home – Feed the Children will provide 115,000 meals, many of which will be purchased with private funds, that can be brought home.
• Nourishing Bodies and Minds: At 11 USDA FNS-approved feeding sites, Feed the Children will provide books and educational resources for children, as well as backpacks and supplies for the school year. They will also test out several innovative activities that may help children to excel during the school year, and conduct a study on why some low-income parents send their children for the meals while others do not.
Results from the pilot will be offered as evidence-based research to Feed the Children partners to identify ways to better solve summer food insecurity that have impact, are far-reaching and cost-effective.
“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.”
In addition to the Oklahoma U.S. pilot program, Feed the Children will continue to partner with 1,200 local agencies, organizations, and civic groups across the U.S. that help with immediate needs.
• Backpacks filled with school supplies and personal hygiene items for homeless students
• Teacher Stores that provide free classroom and teaching supplies to teachers in the poorest schools in the country
• Disaster relief
• Advocacy for more effective and far-reaching nutrition policies and programs
Feed the Children also owns 40 semi-tractor trailers, which greatly simplifies the distribution of food and essentials to its on-the-ground partners.
“While Feed the Children is perhaps better known for its international efforts, which has spanned more than 18 countries, our relaunch provides us an opportunity to re-engage our U.S. audience, and build a new generation of partners, volunteers, donors and advocates, who can help drive exponential change in child hunger,” Hagan added.
In order to engage this new audience, Feed the Children is launching an integrated marketing campaign designed to reach a new generation. The new logo encompasses Feed the Children’s approach and goal – to band together – and will appear in all of Feed the Children’s online and offline communications, in addition to its semi-trucks and packaging materials.
“As we relaunch Feed the Children, it is important for us to change how we look in addition to how we communicate with our target audiences, at every touch point,” said Corey Gordon, Chief Marketing Officer at Feed the Children. “We want people to understand who we are: fearless, grounded, inclusive, and dynamic. To accomplish this, we have to think different and give our audience a reason to believe – our messages, content, images – they’re all designed to allow us to do that.”
1 Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) Profile of Hunger, Poverty, and Federal Nutrition Programs, 2010-12
About Feed the Children
Established in 1979, Feed the Children exists to defeat childhood hunger. It is one of the largest U.S.-based charities and serves those in need in the U.S. and in 10 countries around the world. It provides food, education initiatives, essentials and disaster response. It operates five distribution centers located in Oklahoma, Indiana, California, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
In fiscal year 2017, Feed the Children distributed 79.8 million pounds of food and essentials to children and families in the U.S. Internationally, it provided nutritious food or other benefits to 1,080,000 children, empowered 291,000 parents to make better decisions for their children, and positively impacted more than 1,200 communities and schools in 10 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. It is accredited by GuideStar Exchange and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.
Visit feedthechildren.org for more information.