USDA Pilot Program For School Universal Meal Service

The USDA has announced a pilot program for a Universal Meal Service option to boost school meal participation in high-poverty areas.

Ten states were selected as finalists to participate in an innovative universal free meal service option designed to make it easier for low-income children to receive meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The Community Eligibility Option will allow schools in high-poverty areas to provide free breakfasts and lunch to all students, using preexisting data to determine the eligibility of kids to receive free nutrition assistance.

The Community Eligibility Option is among the early reforms enacted as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, signed by President Obama on December 13, 2010.

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USDA Funds More Fresh Fruits And Veggies For School Kids

Via ReutersState agencies will get more federal funding to provide fresh fruits and vegetables at schools, the U. S. Department of Agriculture announced on Wednesday. The $48 million increase in funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program represents a 40 percent increase since the last fiscal year.

The USDA estimates between 600,000 to 950,000 children will benefit from the program.

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Goya Foods Steps Up, Donates 1 Million Pounds of Food

On March 16, Goya Foods donated 1,000,000 pounds of Goya food products (that’s one million pounds, folks), to emergency food providers in communities across the country. Goya worked closely with the United Way of New York City, which led the way in coordinating the food distribution, both in New York City and nationwide, to emergency food sitessoup kitchens and food pantries. (Twitter fans, find them @unitedwaynyc)

Goya joins an ever-increasing cadre of food-related companies embracing a higher sense of social responsibility by giving back to the communities they serve and by supporting the fight for better nutrition and hunger relief. (Folks like Tyson FoodsConAgraSysco, and Whole Foods Market immediately come to mind). Goya’s initial donation of that one million pounds of food to soup kitchens and food pantries across the country was in celebration of their 75th anniversary.

They’ve also launched the Goya Gives campaign, in partnership with United Way, to encourage people to join in the fight against hunger and promote better nutrition through social media. For 75 days, from March 16th to May 29th, the public can, via the Goya Gives website, contribute recipesphotos and stories of sharing low-cost, nutritious meals with friends or neighbors in need. And in an inspired bit of “community building,” participants can also share via the web site their “Goya Gives” status with their friends on Facebook and Twitter.  In addition, the public can make direct monetary donations to United Way to help fund the organization’s mission to prevent hunger and promote better nutrition in communities across America.

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Govenor Scott – Isn’t The Value Of A Homeless Child More Than $6.00?

The Florida Coalition for the Homeless is responding to Governor Rick Scott’s proposed devastating cuts to homeless programs for the State. The Department of Children & Families has also proposed to eliminate all homeless funding. The Coalition’s PSA, now available for viewing on YouTube here, is not just disturbing, it’s heartbreaking. Will we balance the budget on the backs of homeless families and children?

Support the Coalition.  Contact Governor Scott (Phone and email links here), your Senator (find your Senator here) and your Representative (find your Representative here) and tell them to JUST SAY NO. Florida’s Homeless children and families deserve better!

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Share Our Strength Pitches “No Kid Hungry” At National Govenor’s Meeting

Inspiring news from the front lines of the child hunger battle: Share Our Strength laid the groundwork for expanding the reach of their “No Kid Hungry” campaign into new states through a series of events recently at the National Governors Association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. First, Share Our Strength supporter and Food Network star Sandra Lee delivered inspiring remarks to a room of governors and corporate leaders.  The next day prominent Share Our Strength chefs from across the country catered a special reception attended by fifteen governors, including Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley who passionately encouraged his colleagues to launch “No Kid Hungry campaigns” in their states.

The evening featured a special message from “No Kid Hungry” National Spokesperson and Academy-Award winner Jeff Bridges, who called on those present to lend their leadership to Share Our Strength’s state partnerships. ( You can view Jeff’s  “No Kid Hungry”  promotional video for the program here

Share Our Strength Founder Bill Shore also addressed the gathering of governors, joining Governors O’Malley and Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe to describe the impact that their work together is having in Maryland and Arkansas.

As a result of Share Our Strength’s activities, activism and outreach efforts, a number of governors have expressed strong interest in launching “No Kid Hungry” campaigns in their states.

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Over 44 million Americans Utilizing SNAP/Food Stamp Benefits

According to the latest Monthly Report issued by the Food Research and Action Center, over 44 million Americans utilized SNAP/Food Stamp benefits in December 2010. That’s up over a half a million compared to the previous month, November, 2010, and is over 5 million more than December 2009. Here’s the link.

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1 In 5 Americans Struggled To Afford Food in 2010

Nearly one in five Americans struggled to afford enough food for themselves and their families in 2010, according to a new report released yesterday by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

The report analyzes data that was collected by the Gallup research group and provided to FRAC.

FRAC President Jim Weill is quoted in the Press Release announcing the findings as stating “There still are unprecedented numbers of Americans who are struggling with no wages or low wages, and we can see the impact of that struggle in the food hardship data… We have the resources, even in these difficult times, to eliminate hunger in this country. The consequences of not doing this are far too severe, and the moral cost is even greater.” (emphasis added)

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Share Our Strength Expands “No Kid Hungry” To New Mexico

On Friday, February 25, Share Our Strength, in partnership with the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger (a coalition of more than 80 public and private agencies and groups), launched another “No Kid Hungry” Campaign in New Mexico – bringing to eleven the number of “No Kid Hungry” state partnerships now active around the country.  The New Mexico Campaign’s first year priorities are to increase participation in summer meals and school breakfast programs, a critical need in a state where nearly one in five children face hunger. The launch event drew great local coverage including articles in the Albuquerque Journal (NOTE: PAID SUBSCRIPTION SITE) New Mexico Business Weekly, the Santa Fe New Mexican and local TV news stories.  You can learn more here.

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Media Blitz Around “Hunger in Schools” Report

Last week , Share Our Strength released their  second annual report on hunger in the classroom“Hunger in Our Schools: Share Our Strength’s Teacher Report.” (See our previous blog post, below, on 02/22/11). The report has received significant media coverage bringing important national attention to child hunger in AmericaHighlights included an interview on CNN’s American Morning and an excellent piece in USA Today including a short video they produced with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) You can view that video here.

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Now A Jilted Lover: President’s Budget Calls For Cuts In Support For Nonprofits

So much for the Valentine’s love: As reported here by the The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Obama administration’s budget for fiscal year 2012 includes, among other things, a proposal to cap the value of itemized deductions, including those for charitable contributions, for households earning more than $250,000 a year.

According to the Washington Post, the $3.7 trillion budget proposal would trim or terminate more than two hundred federal programs in 2012, and would also cut hundreds of billions of dollars of domestic programs over the next decade. The link to the Post’s coverage is here. Additional reporting by Jackie Calms of the New York Times can be found here.

The administration’s plan also calls for a $300 million reduction in funding for the Community Block Grant program, as well as a 50 percent cut to federal low-income heating assistance and the consolidation and elimination of several education programs.

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