One out of every six children in the United States is food insecure. In Alabama, that statistic is one out of five. This is according to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.
To help reduce that number and ensure the health and well-being of our children locally, the Bold Goals Coalition recently launched a collaborative effort to expand summer and after-school meals for children across Central Alabama.
Breakfast and lunch served at schools are a key source of food for children who face hunger; and in some cases, those are only complete meals children receive during the entire week. So what happens when school is out? The harsh reality is that, without those meals, many children literally go hungry. This is why federal and state programs exist to provide after-school and summer meal programs when school is not in session.
Expanding access to these programs is a key to addressing regional hunger among children. Generally, this means increasing the number of feeding sites in our six-county area and increasing the capacity of existing feeding sites to serve more kids.
With leadership from the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, Bold Goals has organized a network of regional partners, including school districts and community-based organizations, that are working together to share their individual challenges and successes with each other in order to develop and implement broader regional strategies to expand meal access for children in Central Alabama. The coalition is also assessing the need for policy change at the state and local levels in addition to compiling data on current feeding sites and the number of children served to better understand where there are gaps that need to be filled.
Partners involved in the effort include Bessemer City Schools, Blount County Schools, Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Alabama, Community Care Development Network, Fairfield City Schools, Homewood City Schools, Jefferson County Schools, Project Hopewell, St. Clair County Head Start, YMCA of Chilton County and YMCA of Greater Birmingham.
Addressing child hunger is too big of an issue to combat alone, which strikes at the core principle of the Bold Goals Coalition. It is critical for us to work together to ensure meal programs are accessible and available for children and their families across Central Alabama. If you are interested in getting involved in this collaborative, please contact Ryan Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bold Goals Coalition is 200 organizations solving big community problems by aligning partners, resources and agendas.