For my last post of National Nutrition Month ® (though it likely won’t be my last post about food and nutrition), I’m highlighting a couple of great organizations in my area (Chapel Hill, NC) that I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate or volunteer with. Both organizations tackle the daunting challenge of ameliorating childhood hunger, specifically in our own North Carolina, where more than 1 in 4 children struggle with hunger.
The NC chapter of the national No Kid Hungry campaign is a public-private partnership to end childhood hungry in the state by connecting kids (and schools) to federal food and nutrition programs. Examples of these programs include the School Breakfast Program, the School Lunch Program, and summer meals programs. They hope to improve access to healthy meals for children and families who need them, strengthen the infrastructure of communities and systems, and improve knowledge about the available programs. One effort that I’m more familiar with is their campaign to get schools on boards with “alternative” breakfast models to increase participation in school breakfast. Although all schools may offer breakfast programs, those who are eligible in free and reduced price meals may not participate due to stigma and other barriers. Alternative models, such as breakfast in the classroom or grab-n-go style carts on the way to class, can help increase access to meals.
While meals in school are one great way to tackle this issue, it’s often that kids who are eligible for free and reduced meals at school often come from families who seriously struggle with food insecurity every day, including those weekends when kids are not in school to receive meals. Many communities have “weekend backpack” models in place to help kids get through the weekend with healthy food. TABLE NC is a small organization in Carrboro, NC that does just that. Kids who are referred to TABLE by school coordinators or school social workers can have their parents sign up to get bags delivered before the weekend right to their home or afterschool center.
To learn more about these fantastic programs, check out their websites and see how you can get involved if this is an issue you’d like to help find a solution to.
Photo credit: Saad Akhtar via Flickr.com