How well are we feeding our kids?
Hunger Impact Partners takes a business approach to this social problem.
Working statewide to remove barriers to child nutrition programs, we partner with educators and school officials, community non-profits, state agencies that administer these federal programs, as well as business, philanthropy and community leaders.
In our first three years, Hunger Impact Partners has increased children’s access to 8.8 million meals, totaling $24.6 million in corresponding federal reimbursements. (See our Annual Reports for year-to-year progress).
Our goal is to shrink the missing meal gap over the next five years, a goal that requires collective, unified support and funding to ensure we set up the next generation of Minnesotans for success by removing food insecurity from the equation.
What we learned during the pandemic is that school nutrition departments went the extra mile to address food insecurity needs in their community at the onset of COVID-19 and found ways to make those efforts sustainable as the pandemic continued. As the pandemic continued, meal participation increased due to alternative meal distribution methods, more flexibility in administration due to waivers and meal bundling of multi-day meal boxes.
The CHALLENGE FOR THE FUTURE? SUSTAIN THIS TREMENDOUS GROWTH
The lessons we are learning during COVID-19:
- COVID-19’s impact on the kids and communities HIP services will be complicated and uncertain. Its economic, social and emotional fallout is not now fully comprehensible.
- Food accessibility needs and challenges will remain intense for the foreseeable future.
The issue of childhood hunger as a root of numerous social problems must stay high on the state’s radar.
- Improvements to federal child nutrition program access and implementation was overdue.
- Systemic changes need to be ongoing.
- Meal delivery systems and channels must continue to be agile. Engagement and coordination with strong networks of partners willing to share new ways of distribution healthy, culturally respectful food is essential.
- Education communities will continue to have a primary role to play as feeding centers for food insecure children and their families.
- Data is now more than ever key to directing and coordinating strategies and resources for venerable families with rapidly changing needs for food access.
- Funders will need to be open-minded, responsive and flexible.