Nourish Your Community
Having access to nutrient-rich foods isn’t only important for students; it's also vital to 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 nourish your community.
Seventy-five percent of teachers surveyed report their students regularly come to school hungry. It can be a real challenge for students to concentrate on school work when their stomachs are growling.ii iii
In fact, approximately 22 million students receive free or reduced-priced meals daily through the National School Lunch Program, but only about half of them 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.
This means there is a big opportunity for your school to help fill these gaps.
i Hunger in Our Schools. 2015. Share Our Strength.
ii The Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success through Healthy School Environments. 2015. GENYOUth Foundation.
iii Breakfast for Learning. 2016. Food Research and Action Center.
iv School Breakfast Scorecard. 2017. Food Research and Action Center.
v Summer Food Service Program. 2014. USDA FNS.
Huddle up with classroom teachers, P.E. 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.
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.
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 can help you get started.
Share Feeding America’s Hunger and Health 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 make sure students can earn volunteer credit for your activities. This will be extra motivation for students to join your team, and it can help many students 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 options here and see which one students on your team want to try first.
Find out whether your school has considered alternative breakfast programs. If not, use this year’s Breakfast — Anytime, Anywhere 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 more students participating in it.
2. After School and Weekends
Organize your team and host a food drive to provide nutritious foods for students to take home. Consider using your own social media resources 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 work with your school’s nutrition team to start one 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 requested 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. See some stories and how to do it here, here and here.
Using 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 up 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 suggest appropriate donations for the goals you want to achieve.
- Ask students and teachers to get the word out by tweeting, texting and communicating the drive to local friends and families.
- Keep the momentum going! Build on your program by adding a monthly or even weekly drive!
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 become a feeding site at your school, local recreation center or park.
- Hold “blitz events” where volunteers canvas 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.
Spread the Word
Make posters to put up in your 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 eNewsletter (or newsletter) and on social media! Share student stories, videos and pics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram tagging FUTP 60 (FB: @FuelUpToPlay60; IG and TW: @FUTP60) and using #FuelGreatness!
Use this No Kid Hungry sponsor summer meals toolkit to help.
Explore opportunities to get families more involved in programs like Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters at the Store.
Send information home to families to make sure they know about your school’s program and your area’s summer feeding programs. This collection of awareness resources from USDA can help.
This section has 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 summer months because most food bank collections happen 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 “Build Awareness” to see if you can 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 food service 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
Homefield Advantage provides useful, practical ways for parents and family members to get involved in making this Play a success — in school and at home! Click here for a printable sheet that is ideal for students to take home and share!
This Play may help you meet the goals of the USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge!
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.
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
Funds for Fuel Up to Play 60
Up to $4,000 per year is available to qualified K-12 schools enrolled in Fuel Up to Play 60 to kick-start healthy changes!
Note: It's a great idea to consult with your school's nutrition team when applying for a Healthy Eating grant! Many state and regional dairy councils require it.