How to Free People from the Federal Hunger Safety Net: Feed the Children’s Testimony to Congress

Today in Washington D.C., Feed the Children asked Congress to support multi-sector collaboration. Jonathan Webb, Director, Foundation Partnerships at Feed the Children, testified at a public hearing beginning at 10 a.m. at the Longworth House Office Building. His testimony, “The Role of Nonprofits in Addressing Hunger,” was delivered to the Full Committee on Agriculture as they discussed, “The Past, Present and Future of SNAP: The World of Nutrition and the Role of the Charitable Sector.”  The complete line-up of speakers is here

Here we offer a summary of his remarks to Congress to keep you informed of Feed the Children’s progress in furthering public-private partnerships to support efforts in identifying, creating and scaling up newer and more effective strategies for ending hunger.

The testimony and recommendations were written by members of our Program Impact Department and Government Relations Department, with input from other Feed the Children staff and are available in their entirety here.


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Jonathan Webb, Director of Foundation Partnerships at Feed the Children, testifying before the House Agriculture Committee.

Today I’m in Washington D.C., offering a “call-to-action” testimony asking Congress to change how our country addresses childhood hunger.

As we know, the public sector can’t do it alone—and the nonprofit community can’t do it alone. Public-private partnerships are the true key to decreasing the number of individuals currently relying on the hunger safety net provided by the federal government.  We know the current safety net is not enough to end hunger in the US, so we are promoting solutions to ensure that fewer Americans will need that safety net.

We are offering three recommendations to Congress that will foster innovation, collaboration and improved measurement of results and impact in order to decrease the need for the federal safety net, improve food security and nutrition, and make the safety net more cost-effective.

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First, we are recommending that Congress establish a Food Security and Nutrition Social Innovation Fund. This fund could be created from the USDA’s existing resources to foster a stronger network of anti-hunger partners and promote the multi-sector collaboration necessary to yield smart, innovative solutions to hunger.

Such a fund will allow us to break down the walls that often exist between various sectors– community leaders, nonprofits, academics and governments—and have prevented us from looking at the big-picture issues that define hunger.  Leveraging the skill sets from these constituencies will help us collaborate on creative solutions that go deeper than simply increasing access to direct service.  This $370 million fund would help support a formal “community of practice” and innovation grants to help scale-up the most cost-effective program models that can help defeat hunger.

Second, we’re requesting better access to federally funded demonstration projects.  Currently, nonprofits are severely limited in how we combine efforts with the federal government, especially with the difficulty in leveraging USDA grants.

webb post 1Feed the Children is recommending that Congress encourage nonprofits to bid collaboratively for demonstration projects that test new and effective approaches to improving food security and nutrition programs, as well as administering federal nutrition programs. In order to further encourage program innovation among nonprofit organizations, Congress should dedicate increased funding to targeted demonstration projects, and take actions that will permit necessary flexibility in federal nutrition programs.

And third, we recommend federal grant applications from Congress require measurement of results and impact of programs, using standardized food security and nutrition indicators that will help to assess which programs are having the best results.  The federal government—in collaboration with its partners—needs to study, measure and replicate success.

We look forward to the results and next steps that emerge from today’s testimony and Feed the Children’s recommendations.

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Feed the Children staff pictured in the image above: Kim Baich, Kevin Hagan, Tom Davis, Jonathan Webb, Trevor Moe, and Jayme Cloninger