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Summer Feeding

November 16, 2016 | Blog

As I reflect back on the last month here at the Food Bank of Iowa, it was one of the busiest and most productive ones that I have had and that only pumps me up to continue the momentum.

During early April we evaluated all the BackPack ProgramTM applications that we received from schools that wanted to be part of our program beginning next school year (2015-16) and any schools that want an increase to the number of students they are currently serving. We evaluated 17 applications that requested a total of 705 students. We were able to approve all the new schools that applied and a total of 550 students overall. We are excited to welcome so many new schools. This is especially exciting as we added five schools that were in counties where we did not have any backpack schools and are in rural areas. I believe the majority of these were due to our Food for Thought discussions that our VISTA, Tyler, organized in these counties. We learned that we need to get out in the communities to find our advocates.

I also made a number of site visits during this past month – some of them to these new backpack schools but also some to existing partners. As I spoke with them and explored their communities, our thoughts on providing family boxes to some schools really started to solidify. We will be looking and piloting the family boxes in backpack schools that are in rural consolidated school districts with buildings that have all grades together. This does not mean that we will only serve these schools, but this criteria is a great target for start-up.

The other thing that has kept me hopping is the USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). This will be the first summer that the Food Bank of Iowa is sponsoring sites for this program. I have been busy finding sites, volunteers and vendors. WHEW!!!! We are set now. We will be serving lunch at 3 metro locations, breakfast at 4 locations (3 are rural) and snacks at a separate metro location. Jeez, seems like this section should be longer as it did consume a lot of my time, but it does come down to those facts. Summer is such a hard time for low income families as these kids don’t receive free or reduced lunch and breakfast at school. We need to be doing more with this program and now that we have been through the planning and recruitment stages we have ideas on how to expand this next summer. We are always thinking about more ways to feed these families.

This was part of topic for the conference call this month for the Rural Child Hunger Capacity Institute. How do we evaluate our current partners’ capacity and how do we encourage them to do more? This was a great conference call with lots of participation. My take away is to develop evaluations for our school and community partners for the BackPack ProgramTM. We currently survey the students and parents in the program and get feedback from the schools and community partners in site visits but having a formal evaluation by the schools and community partners would be helpful.

Our next topic will be Building Community Partnerships. This is one where I feel like we do a good job, but could always learn more. As I think about our great partners, I know they are essential to making these programs run successfully. We don’t do this alone – it takes a village, in our case – a lot of villages. Huge thank you to my school and community partners who inspire me each day to do more. Also thanks to my co-workers who backed me up this month as I struggled with some health issues. Special shout out to our warehouse manager Dave who helped me correct a couple errors that I made. I hate making mistakes, but alas I am not perfect…

Kate
Kate Pauly | Regional Partnership Coordinator

Kate Pauly is the Regional Partnership Coordinator for Region 1, the northwest corner of our service area. She takes a holistic approach to hunger fighting, helping our partners find the best solutions to get food to people in need.