Nourish Your Community
*What do we mean by “hunger”? Well, here in the U.S., we’re talking about food insecurity. Think about that. If your household is “food-insecure” it means you and your family are not always sure if you will have access to food or to enough food. Having access to nutrient-rich foods isn’t only important for students; it’s also vital for everyone in your community. School meals and community resources like food banks and summer meal programs can help. Try one of the service-learning activities in this Play to help fight food insecurity and nourish your community.
Here's a checklist to get you started!
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Credit: Share Our Strength’s
No Kid Hungry Campaign
In a 2017 Share Our Strength survey, it was reported that one in six students between the ages of 13 and 18 faces food insecurity.i It can be a real challenge for students to concentrate on school work when their stomachs are growling.ii iii
In fact, nearly 22 million U.S. students receive free or reduced-priced meals daily through the National School Lunch Program, but only about half of low-income children eat school breakfast.iv And in the summer, when school isn’t in session, the numbers of kids eating breakfast and lunch drops even more.v
This means there is a big opportunity for your school to help fill these gaps.
i Hunger in Our Schools. 2017. Share Our Strength. Accessed February 16, 2018
ii The Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success through Healthy School Environments. 2015. GENYOUth Foundation. Accessed February 16, 2018
iii Breakfast for Learning. 2016. Food Research and Action Center. Accessed February 16, 2018
iv School Breakfast Scorecard. 2017. Food Research and Action Center. Accessed February 16, 2018
v Summer Food Service Program. 2014. USDA Food and Nutrition Service. Accessed February 16, 2018
Huddle up with classroom teachers, PE teachers and the school nurse to better understand the food insecurity experienced by students in your school and families in your community. Meet with your school’s nutrition professionals (i.e., those who work in your cafeteria to nourish you) and ask them to help by acting as the coordinators for your program. Meet with your principal to learn what’s already happening in your district and to get a thumbs-up on your plans and input on setting priorities. Involve students and parents to help get the word out and build awareness.
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Credit: Fuel Up to Play 60
Get teachers and administrators in your school on board by pointing out how this Play is going to help develop student leaders for the entire community.
Students! Here are some things you can do to get things going!
- Participate in this Hunger Obstacle Course (adapt for younger children as needed); after discussing the obstacles in general, focus on the ones referencing local communities and see how your team reacts. Then talk about the Play and how it can make a difference.
- Watch The Story of Hungry and then talk about what your team can do to help students in this school in addition to a breakfast program. Brainstorm ideas.
- Use this No Kid Hungry Youth Engagement Toolkit for more ideas. This resource includes information about what motivates youth to get involved in societal issues. Does it match what you think? Get together with other students and adults in your school who share your interest in this issue. Use this information to create something meaningful for you and your peers.
Check online to find out what programs your Feeding America Local Food Bank and Share Our Strength’s Generation No Kid Hungry are running and get ideas. Call your local food bank to see if there is a food pantry in your area that you and your team can get involved with to support your Play.
Share Feeding America’s Hunger and Health: Understand Food Insecurity article with your team to brainstorm ideas to help fight food insecurity and promote health in your community.
Watch this video from the Washington Dairy Council to learn about their Summer Food Service Programs. This should get your team motivated about what’s possible.
Be sure all students and families in your school are aware of the efforts your team is making, whether it’s setting up a breakfast program, starting a weekend backpack program, teaming up for a Summer Food Service Program or helping the Feeding America network of food banks and pantries.
Share this Hunger in America video to highlight how prevalent food insecurity is in our communities.
Tap into student leadership. There are many ways to get students involved in this critical cause. No Kid Hungry and the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation have developed a Youth Engagement Toolkit to help. Work with your project coordinator, the service learning program and the community volunteer offices in your school or community to arrange for students to earn volunteer credit for these activities. This will provide extra motivation for students to join your team who might not otherwise get involved. The toolkit provides an in-depth look at ways to engage more students.
What actions can you take to help ease food insecurity in your school or community? Take a look at the following options and see which one your teammates want to try first.
Find out whether your school has considered alternative breakfast programs. If not, use this year’s Breakfast for Everyone — First Meal Matters Play to get started. One way to fight food insecurity across the school community is to build a breakfast program for all students. USDA’s Community Eligibility Provision resources can help you do it. That can help with both universal breakfast AND lunch programs. If your school already has a breakfast program, work on an awareness campaign to get students to participate in it.
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Credit: Michigan Team Nutrition
2. After School and Weekends
Organize your team and host a food drive to provide nutritious foods for students to take home. Consider using social media to spread the word that you are hosting a local community food drive. Use the donations you receive to provide nutrient-rich snacks and meals that students can take home in the evenings or on Fridays. As your program grows, work with a local food pantry or with your school’s nutrition team to start a food pantry in your building.
Think MyPlate for the foods to donate. Feeding America’s goal is to provide nutritious foods from all food groups, and milk is one of the least donated but most often desired foods. So don’t forget the milk!
- The Great American Milk Drive takes online donations and turns them into vouchers families can use to purchase milk. Have students keep track of what foods are “missing” from MyPlate in your collection of donations and look for ways to increase those donations.
- You might also try a Pints to Gallons fundraiser that other schools have done with great success. Read some stories about how to do it here,here and here.
Use the Feeding America Backpack Program as a resource:
- Work with your school’s nutrition professionals to identify the types of foods you should try to get donated — foods that meet nutritional guidelines and are easy to divide into the right portions to send home. Be sure to ask for advice about food safety and appropriate items to accept.
- Work with your coordinator to set up a collection day at your school.
- Set up a school webpage or Facebook page highlighting the program. Remember to be specific about the food donations you are seeking and let people know where to drop them off.
- Ask students and teachers to get the word out by tweeting, texting and talking about the food drive to friends and families.
- Keep the momentum going! Build on your program by adding a monthly or even weekly drive!
Note: Fuel Up to Play 60 Funds may be available for equipment and materials for this program; Fuel Up to Play 60 does not provide funding for pantry food. That would be done via volunteer efforts and food drives, or through other funding sources.
3. Summer Meals
- Find out where the nearest summer feeding site is for your area. If it’s too far, consider organizing a volunteer team to provide transportation and/or apply to have your school, local recreation center or park become a feeding site.
- Hold “blitz events” where volunteers canvass neighborhoods with flyers and information on summer meal sites.
Think long term. Help students learn more about food insecurity and how sustainable farming can help communities all over the world. Consider ways to sustain your own program through planned fundraisers and food drives, donation campaigns and awareness activities to take away the stigma of poverty and food insecurity. Work with your school counselors and the people you meet through these activities to explore ways you and your teammates can make long-term connections in the community.
Spread the Word
Make posters to put up in local grocery stores inviting donations to your local food pantry or your school’s backpack program. Get the word out on your school’s website or blog, in your school newsletter and student newspaper, and on social media! Share student stories, videos and pics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram tagging FUTP 60 (FB: @FuelUpToPlay60; TW and IG: @FUTP60) and using #FuelGreatness!
Use this No Kid Hungry summer meals toolkit to help get the word out to your community.
Explore opportunities to get families more involved in programs like Share Our Strength’s Food Skills Programs (see Cooking Matters).
Send information home to families to make sure they know about your school’s programs and your area’s summer feeding programs. This collection of awareness resources from the USDA can help.
This section features ideas on ways to involve everyone in your school and community. Think about friendly competitions, ideas on how to include students and adults or ways to bring in the family connection.
Set up friendly competitions between classes or grade levels to see who can collect the most nutrient-rich foods for your local food bank. Think about doing it during spring or even summer months because most food drives take place during the holiday seasons in fall and winter. Start a Great American Milk Drive campaign to raise dollars so food banks can get vouchers for nutrient-rich milk. Use what you learn about students who are interested in leadership opportunities from the ideas in the Build Awareness section to set up ongoing collection activities throughout the school year and summer.
- Volunteer to help with the school breakfast program.
- Work at designated food donation locations.
- Meet with school nutrition personnel to learn about what types of foods are appropriate donations for a backpack program.
- Identify summer feeding locations and organize Student Ambassadors from your school to volunteer to help.
- Help with promotions of your school’s programs and the summer meals programs in your area.
Help Build the Whole Fuel Up to Play 60 Community
Encourage students to log on to their Dashboard and report activity to achieve Level Three (30,000 Points) and be named a Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Ambassador! Having ambassadors at your school might help get more students involved!
Homefield Advantage: Check out this resource and share it with parents so they can see what they can do to help at home and at school.
Just getting started? Here is something you can do without jumping right into the full Play. Let this idea get you warmed up so you’re ready to tackle the full Play!
Organize your team and host a virtual food drive! The Feeding America organization provides this online tool to help people across the country donate to the cause. You can track your team's progress in meeting whatever fundraising goal you set and know that you are contributing to helping people and families get the nourishment they need.
WILLIAM G. MATHER SCHOOL
Summer Feeding ProgramRead More
Hollidaysburg Area Jhs
Homecoming Cereal Collection
Our Fuel Up to Play 60 team decided it is was necessary to collect cereals to support needy families in our community.Read More
Van Buren Elem-middle School
Everyone EatsRead More
Under the Federal School Lunch Program, students must take a certain number of items as they go through the cafeteria line, which typically includes a fruit or vegetableRead More
Funding and Outfitting Your Play
What might help?
• Milk coolers and hot foods holding equipment for a summer meals program
• Permanent signs or menu sign holders promoting hunger resources and the summer meals program
• Portable picnic tables
• A separate storage locker for foods intended for weekend distribution
• Backpacks for a weekend meals program
• Containers and tables for food drive donations