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Data-Driven, Laser-Focused on Kids

Child Nutrition Index

Minnesota’s children are receiving fractions of the food available to them through federal meal programs. The situation has been made worse during the COVID pandemic.

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 563,000 Minnesota children identified at the end of 2021 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 has taught us many practical lessons about how to better support children. It also has put into stark focus not only the unbelievable power of schools to support students and their families, but also the significant power of communities.

All across our network of statewide schools and community organizations, many have stepped up to help distribute food to families in need. This comparison data will inform our work going forward, shaping strategies to do more for our increased population of food insecure children.



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