CACFP Inspire: Wendi Huntley at Connecting Kids to Meals
August 19, 2022
Wendi Huntley is the president of Connecting Kids to Meals in Toledo, Ohio. Connecting Kids to Meals is a Sponsor of the CACFP and SFSP. Under Wendi's leadership, Connecting Kids to Meals utilizes the CACFP program to make sure kids have access to free, healthy meals. The importance of this is underscored by the serious childhood hunger issue facing the Toledo community where 1 out of every 4 kids faces hunger.
Hunger and food insecurity proliferated Toledo and Lucas county even before the pandemic. Without question, this need drastically increased during the global health crisis. Connecting Kids to Meals has been consistently meeting the needs of their community for years, but when everything shut down in March 2020, Wendi led the pivot. Her staff, community partners, and volunteers were trained to safely serve grab-and-go meals throughout the community. Family food boxes were available to anyone in need. From the moment the world "shut down" as a result of the pandemic, Wendi's leadership transcended being both excellent and inspirational. At the moment when uncertainty was its highest, Wendi was able to provide a semblance of hope by way of providing meals with Connecting Kids to Meals.
In the year prior to the pandemic, Connecting Kids to Meals served 500,000 meals. Then, during the first year of the pandemic the organization simultaneously reduced their footprint to serve only one county, but increased their service to just over 875,000 meals under Wendi’s leadership. In addition to providing meals, the organization provided over 10,300 family food boxes in just a few weeks during the summer 2020. During 2021, the demand for kid meals continued and Connecting Kids to Meals served just over 776,000 meals. Another example of the impact of Connecting Kids to Meals was evidenced in having over 48,000 volunteer hours contributed to help pack and serve meals.
Wendi serves her community without hesitation. She jumps in and develops plans and partnerships and works all hours of the day with the sole purpose of empowering others. She strives to make sure no kid ever goes hungry and the team she has developed to assist her all feel the same.