Get Inspired: CACFP Inspire Award Winners Named
April 20, 2022
The National CACFP Association has named winners in the CACFP Inspire Awards. The awards celebrate the incredible individuals and organizations who reimagined and executed the CACFP during the pandemic, especially those who overcame public health challenges and went above and beyond expectations to continue to provide for the children and adults they serve. Winners were named in three categories at an awards ceremony held on Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at the National Child Nutrition Conference in New Orleans, LA.
The CACFP Inspire Community Award recognizes an individual or organization who went above and beyond and served their community throughout the pandemic. Rebekah Dawson, director of the Child Nutrition Program at Feeding the Gulf Coast, was named the CACFP Inspire Community Award Winner. When the pandemic began and area children began attending school virtually, Feeding the Gulf Coast had to quickly change from serving snacks and suppers to serving hot meals for about 1,600 students per day within its Mobile and Baldwin County area. Dawson demonstrated flexibility and urgency in rapidly pivoting their services. Dawson also sought more grant funding for mobile pantries and their family-based meals. In 2021, with Dawson at the helm, Feeding the Gulf Coast served 84 afterschool meal sites with 276,614 snacks dispersed and 91,000 suppers dispersed across their 24-county service area.
Additional Community Award finalists included:
- Angie Hughes, Life360 Community Services, Missouri
- Christina Yutai Guo, Happy Living Adult Care of Colorado
- Charles Coe, Incredible Kids Learning Center, Pennsylvania
The CACFP Inspire Trailblazer Award recognizes an individual or organization who successfully implemented innovative ideas and continued to administer the CACFP during the pandemic. Brooke Wolf of Quality Care Services in El Dorado, Kansas was the recipient of this award. Many people developed new hobbies during the pandemic, from baking bread to learning a new instrument. Wolf brought gardening and farm to plate eating to 17 individual sites, 174 children and 135 families. In addition to its role and service as a CACFP sponsor, Quality Care Services also partnered with the Kansas State Department of Education to implement a Farm to School Sub-Grant Opportunity. Through this program, Wolf successfully increased the quantity of local foods offered throughout their CACFP Sponsorship. Quality Care Services recorded over 7,500 pounds of local foods served in nine months from the 17 sub-grantees. This gardening grant inspired, encouraged and improved the quality of the CACFP throughout the Quality Care Services sponsorship.
Additional Trailblazer Award finalists included:
- Kenyatta Chandler of Houston Independent School District, Texas
- Shawntelle Fisher of The SoulFisher Ministries, Missouri
- Hillary Wheeler and the Culinary Arts Staff at the boys & Girls Clubs of Oceanside, California
The CACFP Inspire Collaboration Award recognizes an individual or organization who partnered with local organizations to fulfill the needs of the CACFP during the pandemic. Children’s Hunger Alliance, an Ohio nonprofit, was named as the winner in this category. Children’s Hunger Alliance currently sponsors 525 family childcare providers, 60 childcare centers, over 350 afterschool programs and over 250 summer programs. While providers were overwhelmed with other components of pivoting in the pandemic, CHA stepped in with curbside or grab-and-go ready meals, securing approved components and packing them on site for their providers. The collaboration between Children's Hunger Alliance and their providers grew to such scale that they ultimately leased a warehouse to accommodate the size of the operation. Children's Hunger Alliance took on an additional 196 SFSP sites in 2020 alone as a result of the pandemic and other sponsoring organizations closing.
Additional Collaboration Award finalists included:
- Melinda Aponte of the YWCA of Asheville, North Carolina
- Children’s Village Indianapolis, Indiana
- Nutrition Staff of Educational Opportunities for Children and Families of Washington