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Data-Driven, Laser-Focused on Kids

Child Nutrition Index

Minnesota’s children receive a fraction of the food available to them through federal meal programs.

We know precisely just how little they are getting through our proprietary data analytics tool – the Child Nutrition Index (CNI). This powerful tool enables us to focus on addressing hunger among Minnesota children identified as at-risk of going hungry.

Based on the data we can then customize strategies and increase their participation in these meal programs. The CNI guides our work and focus on addressing underutilization of under the U.S. Department of Agriculture food and nutrition programs.

CNI’s master database combines data from the the Minnesota departments of Education, Health, and Human Services in an unprecedented undertaking.

From this expansive database, we can pinpoint needs, their severity, and the corresponding federal reimbursement revenue potential. We can then make strategic and cost-effective decisions, funding requests, and our own investments.

Our independent evaluation partner, EnSearch, Inc., is responsible for creating the Child Nutrition Index, for the ongoing synthesizing and analyzing of data, and for validating our progress.

Reason for hope

Fortunately, ensuring our children have adequate food and nutrition already has a sustainable solution: Improve access to and participation in U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food and nutrition programs for children in low-income households.

These programs provide nutritionally balanced meals for children in utero to age 18, and they are funded through federal program dollars that reimburse the states for their costs, effectively sustaining the programs for the long-term.

These meals are served to eligible children in childcare centers, schools, community centers, libraries, parks and homes.

See our Child Nutrition Index, By the Numbers


The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fragility of our meal support systems for children.
It also put into stark focus not only the unbelievable power of schools to support students and their families, but also the role of communities.

Across our state network of school districts, social services, and established hunger-relief non- profits, many stepped up to serve families in need.

We know that the number of WIC clinics decreased due to telemedicine in 2021 but EBT redemption increased. The data showed meals increased but this is likely due to meal bundling and weekly distributions; however reconciliation of the number of children receiving meals remains problematic.




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