Food + You: Holistic and Flexible Approach to Child Hunger Relief
With the start of the school year earlier this fall, a school-based hunger relief pilot program went into full gear at Second Harvest Heartland and 15 schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The Food + You pilot program—lead funding provided by Target—aims to increase availability of wholesome food resources to students and their families. Food + You is unique because of its holistic approach to addressing child hunger. The program is comprised of three main components: direct food distributions; support for schools though a “nutrition navigator”—a Second Harvest Heartland staff member that works to catalyze access to meals though federal nutrition programs; and connections between schools and additional community resources like local food shelves.
“Each component of the program is flexible so we can tailor it for each school. We consider factors such as community, parent engagement, homeless/high mobility rate and culturally-specific foods,” said Pat Pearson, Second Harvest Heartland Hunger Programs Manager. “Food + You is also one of the only child hunger programs that includes utilization of federal nutrition programs to help support the entire family.”
“We are privileged to partner with these schools and work with their families,” said Pearson. “I am very excited to see the enthusiastic response from each school so far.”
As the school year continues, the Food + You program will evolve to shape an impactful program for each child, family and the school’s community.