September is National Hunger Action Month. Since 2014, C&S Wholesale Grocers and FoodCorps have commemorated this month with our annual Victory Growers essay contest to raise awareness of hunger in schools and communities across the country.
This year, with a global pandemic revealing the major role schools play in feeding students every day, we decided to honor Hunger Action Month with stories of school communities stepping up in creative and powerful ways to feed and support kids. Here are a few highlights:
- Georgia’s schools have mostly reopened. Kids are getting access to regular, healthy school meals, but families may still need help accessing healthy food at home. In partnership with their schools, FoodCorps AmeriCorps service members like Melissa Gurevitch are supporting emergency meal distribution efforts. Melissa, serving in Jackson County Schools, harvested a beautiful bounty of veggies and herbs from her school’s garden and sent them home in meal kits to students and their families. Melissa is also teaching physically-distanced lessons in her school’s garden.
- From garden beds to grab-and-go meals, service members collaborate with school nutrition professionals to connect kids to their next healthy meal. In Livingston, nearly 100 pounds of beets have been harvested at the Lincoln School Farm by Megan Randall, FoodCorps service member, and Aubrey Johnson, Farm to School of Park County’s Program Manager and FoodCorps alumna. The beets will be prepared by the Livingston Lunch Ladies and offered to students in a variety of recipes from roasted beets to beet slaw to beet red velvet cake, connecting the garden to the lunch bag.
View this post on Instagram
This week we harvested and processed 98 lbs of beets from the Lincoln School Farm! They will be used in recipes by the Livingston Lunch Ladies, and there’s plenty more where those came from! . . . #cantbebeet #farmfresh #mtharvestofthemonth #montanagrown #eatlocal #farmtoschool #mtfarmtoschool
- Gardens can be a source of nourishment, resilience, and connection for kids and parents alike. Service members with Washington Youth Garden (Dwayne Thomas, Serah Wise, Alli Duda, and Rita Ackah) assembled and distributed nearly 500 gardening kits for their students to start growing at home. Each kit included two types of seeds, soil, compost, materials for seed-starting activities, and a Grow at Home activity guide. While D.C. schools are figuring out how to safely reopen, these activities help families enjoy learning from home while growing some veggies.
- Many school nutrition programs have been preparing and distributing food to families since schools closed last spring due to the pandemic. Some schools, like Billy Mitchell Elementary School in Lawndale, have included school garden-grown produce in their meal distribution efforts. Last month, Service Member Lisbeth Hernandez passed out over 70 pounds of fresh kale, apples, figs, and tomatoes to students and parents.
- Stephanie Muldrew and Julia Thomas, service members with Springfield Public Schools, distributed free dairy boxes filled with a variety of cheese products to students at Boland Elementary School. Boxes were available through a partnership between Homegrown Springfield and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.
- With schools reopening to a mix of virtual and in-person models, kids still need ways to learn at home that are engaging, fun, and active. More than 30 gardening and cooking video lessons for kids were developed by Michigan service members and shared on the Farm to School of Northwest Michigan YouTube page. With these videos, students can complete gardening and cooking activities like growing seeds and making simple, healthy recipes at home with their families.
Want to support kids’ access to healthy school meals? Take the #PledgeForSchoolFood, and FoodCorps will let you know when you can advocate for policies that support healthy schools and healthy kids.