Children's Hunger Alliance Named CACFP Inspire Collaboration Award Finalist
April 5, 2022
Children’s Hunger Alliance is an Ohio nonprofit with offices in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo. Its mission is to ensure children without access receive healthy food, nutrition education and physical activity. CHA currently sponsors 525 family childcare providers, 60 childcare centers, over 350 afterschool programs and over 250 summer programs.
It's no wonder that a far-reaching organization such Children’s Hunger Alliance was largely reshaped by the onset of the pandemic. CHA witnessed its providers stepping in to aid children and families by changing operations, and its staff rolled up their sleeves to assist. All this effort was done in alignment with a set of core values that light the way for CHA:
Community Collaboration the CHA Way
Advocate: Children’s Hunger Alliance maintains a strong commitment to supporting women and BIPOC-owned businesses. Just prior to the pandemic, CHA began sponsoring Leyla House Learning Center. The owner made good use of CHA’s hands-on assistance and training as well as the CACFP reimbursement. With CHA's support, the owner of Leyla House opened her second location in February of 2021.
Child-Centered: Children’s Hunger Alliance took a completely child-centered approach to its own operations to fill the gap in to keep bellies and pantries full of nutritious food. It converted an administrative office into a meal-packing warehouse to respond to food supply chain issues and vendor closures. CHA Implemented mobile routes and delivered food using their own vans. Instead of asking, “Whose job is it?” CHA asked, “Who needs our help?”
Collaborate: In the early phase of the pandemic, Children’s Hunger Alliance was able to secure approved components of meals and pack them onsite at CHA offices for their providers. While providers were overwhelmed with other components of pivoting in the pandemic, CHA stepped in with curbside or grab-and-go ready meals. The collaboration grew to such scale that CHA ultimately leased a warehouse to accommodate the size of the operation.
Educate: When Children’s Hunger Alliance’s family childcare providers and centers applied for Covid-19 licenses to provide care for children of essential workers, many of them set their hearts on continuing to feed their original participants as well. Seventy-five of these providers chose to buy and pack food to distribute to the families of the children they were unable to continue providing care to, but the process to claim those meals was complicated. CHA offered technical assistance and education to their providers to claim those meals and continue feeding children and families.
Lead: The onset of the pandemic in 2020 led to many sponsors closing or no longer being able to fulfill the duties required under USDA regulations. That year alone, CHA sponsored an additional 196 SFSP sites. While other sponsors were scaling back, CHA showed leadership and grit by expanding in the face of adversity.
Children’s Hunger Alliance robust use of their values opened the door for an array of community collaboration. For its effort, CHA is included as a Collaboration Award finalist. Award winners will be named during the 2022 National Child Nutrition Conference.