28 September, 2009

A Novel Funding Approach


Operation FrontlineOperation Frontline does a good job of teaching low-income families how to cook delicious & nutritious meals with limited funds, but finding the money necessary to expand the program to every area it is needed is difficult even for an organization like Share Our Strength.
One idea for increasing available funds for programs like Operation Frontline is to reach out to health insurers. After all, it is clear that eating healthy food on a regular basis will not only help to create less health problems later on, but will also ensure that insurance companies don’t have to pay out for problems that will be prevented by this change to a proper diet.
Of course, even in the best scenario, this idea will not help everyone. The incentive for insurers to fund programs like Operation Frontline only exists if those the program helps are also insured by those same providers. Obviously, many of the families in these programs do not have health insurance at all.
But even if everyone was insured, this scheme does not work. It has already been tried, and it has failed.
Great MovesRoberta Clarke of Great Moves, a pediatric weight management center in Boston, explains: “Initial meetings 18 months earlier with the insurance companies had suggested that, if the program worked — that is, for example, if the children’s body mass index numbers started to stabilize or fall rather than rise — insurers would discuss paying part of the program cost.”
But after results starting coming in, Insurers started changing their tune. “[They said] they would not pay for the program, not because the program did not work but because it did not meet their 12-month return-on-investment goal.” Even though insurers agreed that the individuals themselves would be healthier and would present less of a risk for a hospital visit that they would have to pay out for, they still refused to pay for the program because by the time health benefits started to appear, the average family would have moved on to a different health provider. In essence, insurers did not want to pay up front for a benefit that another health insurer would receive.
Fulfilling the President's CallIf you want to get a few more details on the specifics, Roberta Clarke wrote a great account of this over at boston.com. But what I’m concerned most with from this is the idea that the funding for real solutions like Operation Frontline seem to come only from charities like Share Our Strength. This is most definitely not ideal. We need strong public/private partnerships, like the kinds Billy Shore and Tom Freedman proposed through the Democratic Leadership Council.
Share Our Strength is already doing great state partnership work as a test case for the entire nation. With good, old fashioned hard work, and a little luck, Share Our Strength will be able to leverage these test cases into a framework that will push us toward our goal of ending childhood hunger in America by 2015.
We hope you’ll all be along for the ride.

24 September, 2009

Re-Energizing


Hinges of HopeI am always amazed by both the depth and breadth of my coworkers here at Share Our Strength. Though I have only worked here for a little over a year (and this is my first real job at that), I already feel as though I have grown tremendously in my time in the nonprofit sector. But it isn’t due to any positive trait I possess—rather, it is almost entirely due to the intensity and excitement I see every day around me.
As a web guy, I don’t often get to go into the field to see all the good we do, but even in the office all day I am surrounded by talented, dedicated individuals who work hard every day to accomplish something truly valuable. For all of this, I am extremely grateful.
I chose to work at Share Our Strength because of all the good work this organization accomplishes everyday, and sometimes it isn’t entirely obvious what all we do when I’m stuck behind a computer all day. So that’s why, for the first time, I decided to go on a Hinges of Hope tour.
As Billy Shore puts it, there are places in America that we think of as hinges of hope. These are places with situations that show how far we have fallen, yet also show how we can actually turn around from the brink.
Every few months, we send out a few volunteers, staff, donors, and partners to bear witness in the work we are doing in a particular area. We show the problems; we show the solutions we’ve come up with; and we show the results of our efforts, inviting discussion on how we can improve the good we do.
And so that’s why my first Hinges of Hope trip means so much to me. It has reinvigorated me in my work, and encouraged me to take new and bigger projects. I may just be a web guy, but while teamed up with the awesome team we have at Share Our Strength, I feel invincible.
Together, we can do anything.

Read more about Hinges of Hope

22 September, 2009

The Great American Dine Out Is Here!


Great American Dine OutEach year, the beginning of back-to-school season marks Great American Dine Out week. It’s the best time of year to do something small to help end childhood hunger. That’s because, from September 20-26, you can dine out at participating restaurants and a portion of your check will automatically go toward Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger by 2015.
There are lots of ways you can get involved with Share Our Strength throughout the course of the year, but the Great American Dine Out is definitely the easiest.
We all go out to eat anyway, so all we have to do to help is just to make sure that the restaurants we go to during Dine Out week are donating part of their profits to Share Our Strength, and then go out to eat as we normally would.
And accomplishing that much is extremely easy: just head over to our zip search, plug in your zip code, and find a restaurant near you. That’s all it takes!

Great American Dine Out

There’s no shortage of choices, either: thousands of restaurants have signed up to be part of the Great American Dine Out this year, including fine dining, casual eateries, chains, and independent family-run operations. We raised over half a million dollars last year and we aim to surpass even that this year!
So don’t forget to dine out this week, and you won’t get to enjoy just a great meal, but also a great conscience for having done your part to help end the childhood hunger epidemic in the United States.

Other things you can do during Dine Out week