On Friday I was in Little Rock with Governor Beebe to celebrate the first anniversary of our No Kid Hungry campaign in Arkansas, and ro recommit ourselves to even great investment there. Arkansas is a poor state that a year ago ranked first in the nation in food insecurity. But that was before we launched No Kid Hungry’s signature mix of public-private partnership that includes:
gubernatorial leadership: not only the Governor and his wife but his senior staff and relevant cabinet officials
local corporate involvement: WalMart, Tyson Foods, The Midwest Dairy Council
leveraging federal food and nutrition programs like school breakfast, SNAP and summer meals,
coordinated action with nonprofit partners: the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance
an unprecedented level of collaboration among all of the above (which virtually everyone credits to Share Our Strength)
The results are compelling:
an increase in summer meals sites between from 330 in 2010 to 440 in 2011, with the addition of programs in 14 counties that did not have any summer meals at all
an increase in after-school meals sites from 48-119 or 248%
six schools piloting breakfast in the classroom, which won a strong endorsement from First Lady Ginger Beebe who has nicknamed it “Desk Top Dining”.
Cooking Matters pilots in 4 sites
SNAP enrollment up from 71% of eligible to 84% bringing $740 million of SNAP benefits to the state.
What is palpable wjhen visiting Arkansas is the degree to which the conversation has changed – in every corner of the state and at every level of state government – from feeding kids to ending childhood hunger, and to doing so through our No Kid Hungry strategy of focusing on increasing access, outreach and participation in programs like school breakfast, summer meals, and SNAP.