News Roundup, March 14, 2016

Feed the Children Expands Partnership Reach

We’ve been working for more than 35 years to make the lives of children and their families better in the United States and around the world. That means we’re always working behind the scenes, looking for ways to increase our partnerships, make our processes better and more efficient, and keep our administrative costs low. Through its network of agencies, Feed the Children distributed more than $344 million in food, essentials, educational supplies, and medicine, impacting close to 9 million individuals in the U.S. and more than 4.9 million individuals internationally.

Recently members of Feed the Children staff attended a “supply chain” conference in Dallas, where we offered a presentation entitled “Solution Based Product Donations: Keeping Unneeded Good Product Out of the Landfill and Out of Your Warehouse.” Mike Ghassali, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships, Corporate Donor Relations, made the presentation for us, and several Feed the Children staff attended the conference, staffed a booth with information about Feed the Children, and networked with potential partners.

Our work with corporate partners helps them serve their communities by giving them the means to donate good-quality unused products to families in need who could use these supplies. This conference helped us connect with even more potential partners and helped position us as a great choice to receive excess inventory. We also met with people who offered us their technical and programming expertise, so we can do our work even more effectively.

Image from left to right:

Chet Jones, Director of Gifts in Kind Partnerships, Corporate Donor Relations, Corporate Donor Relations
Mike Ghassali, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships, Corporate Donor Relations
Chris Splitt, Senior Director of Corporate Donor Relations, Corporate Donor Relations
Hogan Thomas, Senior Director of Logistics/Inventory Management, Logistics/Inventory Management
Wendy Henderson, Director of Gifts in Kind Partnerships, Corporate Donor Relations

Books for Kids

C0ACBE4B-3358-4FBC-82F4-555D4DEA4F44Half Price Books has been giving away free books to a variety of organizations during its 43-year history. In 2015, the company set a goal to give away a million books, a goal they exceeded by more than 50%. Feed the Children was honored to receive a shipment that included the millionth book! We’re grateful for the partnership with Half Price Books. The books we receive are given to children in need through our domestic programs.

To read more about the program, click here.

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Anti-Hunger Policy Conference

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced new USDA efforts to improve access to healthy foods for women, infants and children at the 2016 National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference hosted by the Food Research & Action Center and Feeding America. Over the past seven years, USDA has enhanced federal nutrition programs, providing a critical safety net for millions of American children and families.

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Our own programs rely on partnership with the USDA. For example, in 2014, Feed the Children launched the Summer Food & Education Program, which partners with the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program. The program combines the federal support from USDA with Feed the Children’s logistics and transportation experience to bring food and hope to children throughout Oklahoma. Through the Summer Food & Education Program, Feed the Children served approximately 195,000 meals with the help of public funds and private partners to children at 11 sites within several cities, rural communities, and Indian Tribal organizations across Oklahoma. Read more about the project here.

The conference served as a kick-off to National Nutrition Month, observed throughout March, and was attended by anti-hunger advocates from across the country.

Africa Day for School Feeding

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March 1 was the first annual Africa Day for School Feeding, an observance sponsored by the African Union Commission, AU Member States and development partners. The day, which is centered on the theme “Home Grown School Feeding: a Conduit for Africa’s Sustainable Development”, was celebrated with continent-wide activities and highlighted by series of official events in the Nigerien capital, Niamey.

Read more about the program here.

School feeding is at the center of our organization’s efforts in Africa. In Kenya, Feed the Children partners with the Ministry of Education and the World Food Program (WFP) to provide one meal a day to school-going children in the urban slums of Nairobi and in Kajiado Counties. The meal (mostly githeri – a mixture of maize and beans) helps keep kids in school and also keeps them productive in class.

In Tanzania, children in Kisarawe District receive mid-morning porridge fortified with vitamins and minerals thanks to Feed the Children. The porridge provides a strong incentive to keep children in school and helps them focus, as some of the kids do not have breakfast from home. Feeding children each school day creates a better learning environment.

In Uganda, Feed the Children provides two meals a day (mid-morning porridge and lunch) to children in two kindergarten classes located in Northern Uganda’s Gulu District. These are crucial meals for these children; the majority do not have breakfast at home, so the meals attract kids to attend school.

To learn more about our work around the world, click here.

Backpacks and Hope in Arizona

7-2015 CDR 3063 New HELP Backpack Photos -36-Feed the Children provided more than 2,000 backpacks to Marana Unified School District, Amphitheater School District, Tucson Unified School District and Sunnyside Unified School District on Wednesday, March 9. The backpacks, containing school supplies and snacks, will be distributed throughout the school year to students experiencing hardship.

Feed the Children has distributed more than 772,000 backpacks to American children who are homeless. Our Homeless Education and Literacy Program, or H.E.L.P., provided close to 65,000 backpacks to children in fiscal year 2014 alone.

Feed the Children Helps Teachers Too

Kids in the US are more than hungry.

While important, food will not satisfy all their needs.

Kids need to learn, in good schools, with well-prepared teachers—teachers who can offer kids every tool they need to grow into a successful future.

Feed the Children walks alongside teachers to help make this happen, as much as we are able.

Thanks to generous partners like the Office Depot Foundation, for the past three years, we’ve operated a Teacher Store within our distribution warehouse in Oklahoma City. (We have recently opened similar stores near Nashville, Tennessee and Elkhart, Indiana as well).

Two afternoons a week during the school year, the Teacher Store opens for instructors to shop for free for their classroom. They are given reusable bags to fill with whatever supplies they feel they need. They find everything from sets of books for reading groups, to markers, labels, bulletin board materials and classroom furniture, all available on a first come, first served basis. Feed the Children staff members greet each teacher and assist as needed.

IMG_1494Charme and JoAnn, teachers at Shawnee Early Learning Center in Shawnee, OK have been coming to the Feed the Children Teacher Store for the past two years. They both say that their kindergarten classrooms are better equipped to help kids learn thanks to the supplies from the Teacher Store.

Charme told us, “With budget cuts, money is tight at our school. Often we are spending our own money to buy supplies. But thanks to the Teacher Store, we are doing less and less of this!”

JoAnn added, “We love coming here because we can give our kids so many more opportunities to learn.”

Once a month, the teachers can return to shop again. Many do, and they bring their colleagues.

Debbie, a kindergarten teacher at Windsor Hills Elementary in Oklahoma City says she loves coming to the Teacher Store because, “The selection is great, IMG_1497.JPGespecially the books. I find so many things here that I don’t have to buy on my own.”

The sad truth is that many kids in America arrive at school without the most basic supplies. How can children learn without paper, pens, computers, and books? How will they be prepared to make it as adults without adequate training in school? They won’t.

Many teachers, often already underpaid, care so much about their students’ education that they spend their own money for classroom supplies for their students. On average, teachers spend at least $500 of their own money on resources to help their students learn.

One special education teacher, Yeneer who works at Western Heights Elementary in Oklahoma City, told us that because the challenges her students and their IMG_1498.JPGfamilies face are so great, school supplies are quite low on their parents’ priority list. Because of the Feed the Children Teacher Store, she’s able to provide her students with basic supplies.

“I love that my kids don’t feel less than,” she said. “With your help, my students feel more like all the other kids.”

That’s why it’s so important to us to support these teachers. When teachers receive the best resources possible, they’re free to focus all their energy and resources on teaching. And that gives their students every opportunity to learn and achieve great things.

We are indebted to the corporate donors who help stock our Teacher Stores each month, including TOPS Products, School Specialty, Excelligence Learning Corporation, BIC, Hachette Book Group, First Book, Disney Publishing, Scholastic and The Creative Company. They believe in our mission of providing hope for those without life’s essentials.

Together, we’re helping more kids be kids and learn to their fullest potential in school this year!