Yesterday’s article posted from Jamie Nash offered a number of ways to promote afterschool and summer meal programs.
She writes, “Providing meals for children through federal Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs is a win-win opportunity for cities. Cities benefit by bringing more federal funds into their neighborhoods, and can improve the health and well-being of low-income children by increasing their access to healthy meals and their participation in fun and safe activities during out-of-school time hours.
“It is important for mayors and other city leaders to build strong partnerships with stakeholders, such as statewide anti-hunger groups, schools, food banks and other community organizations, to implement meal programs in ways that maximize quality and participation,” Ms. Nash writes. “These stakeholders can serve as important outreach partners that help city leaders connect with their residents to make sure they are aware of the resources available to them.”
Danielle Foster, the city’s Housing and Human Services Superintendent, told the Vanguard that the city has been working with the school district the past two years to try to get a Summer Meal Program going. Last summer they succeeded in having a local program in Davis.
She told the Vanguard, “In partnership with Dominic Machi, in student nutrition for DJUSD, city staff was able to assist in promoting and coordinating a local program in 3 locations last summer. The program started with meals at Holmes Junior High and Montgomery Elementary (flyer attached) and then expanded to Windmere Apartments, an affordable housing complex on Fifth street.”
Ms. Foster will get follow up data to the Vanguard on the meals served at the three sites.
The city assisted with the program outreach and a press release. It translated the flyer into Spanish to enable the city and school district to serve kids whose families do not speak English. It assisted in planning locations and identified the Windmere Apartments as a third site. Finally it brought in CHOC (Community Housing Opportunities Corporation) as a partner on the Windmere site.
From yesterday’s article, here are the five ways that city leaders can promote afterschool and summer meal programs in their communities:
- Use the bully pulpit to raise awareness of child hunger and promote out-of-school time meal programs. Local elected officials can write op-eds for local newspapers, emphasize the need for afterschool and summer meal programs in public speeches or at events, and promote afterschool and summer meal programs on the city’s website and through newsletters and social media.
- Publicize out-of-school time meals through a targeted marketing strategy. An important component of any marketing strategy for out-of-school time meals is a kick-off event. These events can raise awareness about meal programs in a way that brings key stakeholders and families together. Mayors can use kick-off events to frame afterschool and summer meals as a top priority for the city before a large audience of community leaders. Cities can also take advantage of existing national resources such as the National Hunger Hotline (1-866-3HUNGRY) to make meal program site locations and operating hours easily accessible to families. In addition, cities can advertise information about meal sites on utility bills, via robo-calls, or through the city’s 311 information line or the United Way’s 211 information line.
- Sponsor Afterschool or Summer Meal Programs. City agencies such as parks and recreation or departments of housing are well-suited to be sponsors of afterschool and summer meal programs and to host meal sites at local facilities, e.g., recreation centers. Staff from a mayor’s office can also coordinate a working group or task force that focuses on the issue of child hunger and identifies strategies to reduce it, including initiatives to increase participation in out-of-school time meal programs. City staff relationships with key community partners, as well as knowledge of where young people congregate after school and during the summer, are integral to the success of these programs.
- Partner with community organizations that serve afterschool and summer meals. Local nonprofits and other afterschool providers often act as sponsors to provide afterschool and summer meals as well as activities for young people before and/or after meals. Cities can leverage funding for meal programs in partnership with community-based organizations.
- Incorporate child nutrition goals into a broader citywide agenda. City leaders can work with staff responsible for broader citywide initiatives, such as Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties or other initiatives that focus on children and youth to expand the reach and scope of child nutrition programming.
The Vanguard will follow up with the city on the data from last summer’s program.
—David M. Greenwald reporting