Shawntelle Fisher of SoulFisher Ministries Named CACFP Inspire Trailblazer Award Finalist
April 14, 2022
Shawntelle Fisher is the Founder and CEO of The SoulFisher Ministries, a nonprofit organization that provides afterschool tutoring and enrichment in the Riverview Gardens School District in north St. Louis. As part of the afterschool program, it provides students with a hot meal and a nutritious snack through the CACFP. The Riverview Gardens School District is 100% Free and Reduced Lunch, highlighting the ongoing needs of children and families in the area. Challenges escalated in the pandemic. The SoulFisher Ministries stepped in and supported area children in innovative ways throughout the crisis.
Shawntelle and The SoulFisher Ministries were trailblazers even prior to Covid. Their mission is to respond to the needs of youth with incarcerated parents and to promote restorative justice for those currently or formerly incarcerated. Fisher consistently looks for opportunities to meet the needs of the North St. Louis community. A primary focus of CACFP’s mission is to reduce food insecurity, and Shawntelle's specific emphasis on a low-income area and children of incarcerated parents certainly serves that mission well.
Once Covid struck, The SoulFisher Ministries pivoted its already robust CACFP services by partnering with Riverview Gardens School District and Zion Travelers Church to offer drive-thru grab and go breakfast and lunch from March 2020 - March 2021, when area schools returned to in-person learning. Fisher even called upon the National Guard to support The SoulFisher Ministries’ meal distribution in the community.
As though all that wasn’t enough, Shawntelle was able to license a new childcare site at First Presbyterian Church, so students had access to computers and internet for virtual learning while the doors to their schools were closed. This childcare site also provided students with a hot breakfast, hot lunch, hot dinner and a nutritious snack. Through The SoulFisher Ministries, this site served as learning hub for the school district, opening its doors to students from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm.
This pandemic pivot brought the CACFP operation of The SoulFisher Ministries from an afterschool program to full 11-hour day with three meals and a snack. Shawntelle innovated and pushed through boundaries to support her community and elevate her services to an often-overlooked demographic, leading to her inclusion as a finalist for the Inspire Trailblazer Award. Award winners were named during the 2022 National Child Nutrition Conference.