Tools of the Trade: Summer Food Service Program
The Summer Food Service Program, funded by USDA and administered by the Iowa Department of Education, provides nutritious meals and snacks to children in low-income areas during the summer months. There are many summer food service program feedings sites across the state of Iowa, however the program is still vastly under-utilized. The biggest barrier to children participating in the Summer Food Service Program is knowledge that feedings sites exist.
The Iowa Department of Education is looking for “sponsors”: organizations across Iowa that are willing to provide a location or volunteers for a meal site during the summer. Anyone who is interested in becoming a sponsor or leraning more about sponsors in their area should contact Stephanie Dross at 515-281-4760 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The State of Iowa encourages all applications for 2014 to be submitted by May 9, 2014.
Innovation and Collaboration: High Schools as Partners in Ending Hunger
FFA students at Sumner-Fredericksburg High School worked with their advisor and school administration to organize an Oxfam Hunger Banquet and fundraiser involving their entire school. The Oxfam Hunger Banquet is a free curriculum that helps participants understand the injustice and causes of world hunger through an interactive meal at which some are fed well and others eat very little. The student organizers used the school-wide hunger banquet as an activity to introduce the issue of hunger to their entire school and to kick off a week of fundraising, where students voted with their donations on which teachers would participate in a hands-free pie eating contest in front of the student body.
Students at Sumner-Fredericksburg raised $250, which was donated to Oxfam America’s global hunger relief efforts and to the local Fayette County Food Shelf, which is recovering from a fire. The community was supportive, and funds to cover the cost of food at the Hunger Banquet were donated by the first person whom the students approached.
At Emmetsburg High School, a sophomore biology teacher has modified free curriculum published by the World Food Prize to introduce all sophomore students to the human face of global hunger through a poster project and canned food drive. Sophomore biology students research a country and a challenge that contributes to hunger in that country, come up with their own solutions, and then present their ideas on a poster through short written lists and pictures. Students are encouraged to bring in non-perishable food items as part of the project, which are donated to the local food pantry in the name of the Emmetsburg High School Sophomore class. The posters are hung in the school for public viewing to further raise awareness of hunger. After completing their posters, students have the option to write a paper and attend the World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute at Iowa State University.
Recommendations for encouraging high school students’ interest in hunger and supporting them as they take action include:
1) Ensure that projects provide an appropriate mix of challenge and support to meet a variety of students where they are at. Providing options for building on a shared experience is one way of doing this.
At Emmetsburg, the poster assignment allowed students to focus on writing, images, or oral presentation, ensuring that all students, including special education students, were able to produce a good looking poster with appropriate content. The option for students to develop their poster into a larger paper supported interested students in building on their passion, without burdening students whose interests lie elsewhere.
At Sumner-Fredericksburg, the hunger banquet provided opportunities for student participants to speak or observe based on their comfort level. Interested students had the option to help plan a hunger activity next year. By involving the entire student body in the hunger banquet, the organizers provided academic value and created a shared experience that teachers are using to frame discussions in classes across disciplines.
2) Be a resource to students, while allowing them to take the lead where possible.
At Sumner-Fredericksburg, a core group of FFA students had worked with their advisor on other projects in the past and felt ready to organize the school wide hunger banquet with little direct involvement from the advisor, who continued to provide advice when asked.
While the poster presentation curriculum at Emmetsburg was developed by teachers, students have the opportunity to make their own decisions about the countries and challenges they research, the solutions they present, and how they design their posters.
3) Foster teamwork and solidarity and build incrementally on successes.
FFA students at Sumner-Fredericksburg were interested in helping organize the hunger banquet but had to overcome the fear of failure. By visibly working as a team, the organizers reminded themselves that they would succeed or fail together. Focusing on the students who were positively impacted by the hunger banquet helped organizers to persist despite the realization that few of their peers were as passionate about hunger the student-organizers.
The teacher at Emmetsburg has built incrementally on the poster curriculum over several years. This year, she reached out to the local newspaper to observe the poster presentations and inform the community about what the students did to learn about global food insecurity and make a difference locally. Next year, she hopes to partner with another school group or church group to add a student-run soup supper with a free will donation to the local food pantry.