07 November, 2009

Share Our Strength Grantees

Note: This article was originally published on Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry website.

Marcus Finley, manager of our Grants & Child Hunger strategy, led a great panel discussion today at Conference of Leaders with three of Share Our Strength’s grantees from across America:
  • Linda Stone, The Children’s Alliance, Seattle, WA
  • Brenda Chamberlain, Horton’s Kids, Washington, DC
  • Yael Lehman, The Food Trust, Philadelphia, PA
Share Our Strength does a lot of in-the-field work with Operation Frontline, but most of the money we raise goes toward funding grantees in the field of anti-hunger work. The three grantees on this panel represent disparate versions of how Share Our Strength makes a difference.
Brenda described how Horton’s Kids started out as a tutoring service for very low-income neighborhoods, but they soon recognized that no progress could be made without first feeding their children. Today, Horton’s Kids start every tutoring session with high-quality nutritious food.
Yael spoke about the corner store work they do, making sure that every neighborhood has access to fresh food, and eliminating the fresh food deserts in Philly. They also do a lot of work with farmers’ markets, making them more accessible for low-income families.
Linda and the Children’s Alliance, on the other hand, focus on state-level initiatives in the Washington state congress, making things like school breakfast a norm rather than an exception to the rule.
A thorough Q&A session followed, resulting in some great discussion.
On overweight, yet nutritionally deficient, kids:
“Kids can be overweight, but also not have enough nutrients. Horton’s Kids, for example, get food from corner stores that have the selection of a 7/11, but everything is behind bullet-proof glass. With few options available to them, many kids get more calories than they need from nothing but potato chips, leaving them overweight yet still hungry; without the nutrients they need, all the body can do to cope is continue to push a feeling of hunger.”
On local donations from food companies:
“We cannot utilize food company donations on a local level, because it results in a conflict of interest when we advocate locations where children live, learn, and play to start offering nutritious food. But we can take advantage of the massive donations food companies provide by going through Share Our Strength.” -Linda
On the recession:
“The Philadelphia government cut everything; the only way we could keep our programs running is by organizations like Share Our Strength continuing to fund us.” -Yael
On small efforts:
“We run a summer camp six days a week to maintain reading levels over the summer. We also feed the kids every time we see them. One time we noticed two brothers who couldn’t seem to get enough food, so we decided to send them home with extra meals. Their eyes immediately lit up. ‘Is that for me?’, they exclaimed excitedly. This is instant impact from small efforts on our end. It really does make a big difference.” -Brenda
On consistent funding:
“There are so many folks who want to fund you for a year or two, but what happens after that? Having reliable funding from Share Our Strength is key for doing what we need to do.” -Linda
On food stamp acceptance at farmers’ markets:
“Food stamp machines are expensive. But not only do we need them at farmers’ markets so that SNAP recipients can purchase fresh food, but also every farmer really does need one as well; we’ve found that the addition of a food stamp machine (which also allows credit cards) actually doubled sales of fresh produce. As soon as we saw these dramatic increases, we immediately pushed for every farmer’s market in Philly to have a food stamp machine. They’re not yet paid for, but they’re at every farmer’s market in the city now, and we’re proud of that.” -Yael
On school breakfast:
“We used to have a school breakfast program in Washington state that required a 30¢ co-pay. But we knew that for low-income families with multiple children, that 30¢ can be really hard to come by. So we rallied our volunteers to speak with their congressmen, and the state of Washington decided to foot the bill instead. As a result, the participation rate soared.” -Linda

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