By Dawn Schluckebier
NLC has selected 21 cities to participate in two upcoming regional leadership academies that will help them leverage federal funding to reduce childhood hunger.
The leadership academies will take place May 22-23 in Denver and June 4-5 in Philadelphia as part of the Cities Combating Hunger through Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs (CHAMPS) initiative. NLC's Institute for Youth, Education, and Families and the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) have partnered to support this initiative with a generous grant from the Walmart Foundation.
Selected cities include:
The CHAMPS initiative is designed to help cities increase the number of children receiving healthy meals at afterschool and summer programs by drawing on two key U.S. Department of Agriculture funding sources: the Afterschool Meal Program and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). These funds provide federal reimbursement to city, school district and nonprofit organizations that offer meals to children and youth who participate in out-of-school time programs. For many children whose families struggle to afford healthy food, the meals available at afterschool and summer programs are a vital source of nutrition.
The leadership academies will provide city officials with the knowledge and skills needed to ensure that their communities are taking full advantage of this opportunity for federal reimbursement. Participating cities will interact with federal nutrition program experts, learn about promising approaches and lessons learned by from other cities that have leveraged these federal funding sources, and network with peers to share experiences and challenges.
Out of a pool of 39 applicants, NLC and FRAC selected these 21 cities based on demonstrated need, evidence of city leadership and collaboration to address childhood hunger, and a clear plan for how each city will use the leadership academies to achieve its proposed goals. In addition, preference was given to cities that are members of NLC. Following the leadership academies, participating cities will have the opportunity to apply for pass-through grants and a year-long, in-depth technical assistance project to assist them in developing or expanding afterschool and summer meal programs.
Year-Round Access to Meals
The CHAMPS leadership academy continues a multi-year NLC effort supported by the Walmart Foundation to reduce childhood hunger. In 2012, NLC hosted leadership academies for an earlier cohort of 21 cities and provided additional capacity-building support, technical assistance and training to 11 cities seeking to draw on federal funds to serve more meals to children at new or existing afterschool programs.
Recognizing that only 15 percent of students who receive subsidized school lunches also participate in summer meal programs, NLC has expanded the initiative to focus on access to summer meals and the federal reimbursement available for SFSP providers.
By ensuring year-round access to healthy meals, municipal leaders can address the high levels of food insecurity among children in cities across America, which has devastating long-term effects on their health and their ability to perform well in school. Programs qualifying for federal reimbursement not only have the opportunity to close nutritional gaps but can also provide youth with an incentive for participating in educational enrichment activities that keep them safe and engaged during the non-school hours. In addition, helping cities increase federal reimbursement for out-of-school time programs that provide meals enables these providers to focus more of their resources on programming content. It is a win-win for cities as they reduce hunger, maximize the out-of-school hours, and bring additional federal dollars into their local economies.
For more information about the CHAMPS project or the federal afterschool and summer meal programs, contact Imani Hope at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 626-3180.