Check out the latest news about NAA and special announcements pertinent to the field of afterschool.

Champion Food Security: 3 Fall Weekend Projects

Friday, 23 September 2022 08:53

September is Hunger Action Month. Organized by Feeding America, this month is a time to reflect and, most importantly, recommit to taking action to support those in our community facing the impossible decision between having nutritious food and paying for essentials like medicine, housing, or education. Food security and hunger connect to many of the components of the Whole Child Model. To honor this complexity but provide tangible action steps, below are three fall weekend projects that I hope inspire you. I’d love to know which ones you try and what you’d add to this list. Tag me on Twitter using @hatchdw or message me on LinkedIn.

Project 1: Go on a Photovoice Adventure

Prepare for your photo exploration by learning about hunger in your community with Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap. Visit the map and enter your county to find statistics like food insecure population, average meal cost, and annual food budget shortfall.

Also, consider using the USDA Food Access Research Atlas. Once you enter the Atlas, enter your zip code to see how far low-income census tracks are from the nearest supermarket.

Pair this new data with a Photovoice adventure around your neighborhood. Grab your camera, hit the streets, and capture anything that tells the story of food - farmer’s markets, businesses, groceries, and community gardens - I wonder what you will find. Your Photovoice project might even inspire giving and volunteering. For more on that, keep reading!

Project 2: Nurture a Natural Connection

It’s impossible to take action against hunger without acknowledging the link to our environment and climate change. According to If/Then Ambassador Samantha Wynns, “What happens to one species happens to all, and this includes humans!” Advocating for food security includes supporting pollinators and water conservation, both essential for sustainable agriculture. As an educator, you also have the power to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards by deepening your own relationship with nature.

Here are four quick ideas:

  • Find a safe place to explore, take a few deep breaths, and consider “what’s in motion” around you.
    Find a comfortable spot and sketch something you see or feel. Consider, how you are reflected in nature?
  • Download Mizzen by Mott’s “Gardening for Wildlife” Activity, where children assess greenspace to see if they meet the criteria for certification from the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program.
  • BONUS: An activity I learned at the recent 2022 National Recreation and Park Association conference. Engage youth in planting or restoring native species and constructing rain barrels to support water conservation. YSA has a list of youth service grants to help fund your project. 

Project 3: Gather Your Friends and Volunteer

As you learn more about your community, find out who is already working to address hunger and team up! Gather your friends and volunteer. For example, here in Washington, DC, where I live, Martha’s Table is working towards a community where everyone thrives, and that includes addressing hunger. My friends and I regularly get together and make sandwiches and trail mix for McKenna’s Wagon, which delivers meals and snacks to folks across the city. It doesn’t take long, and it’s a nice bonding activity. Short on time? Don’t worry! Every volunteer activity, no matter how long, makes a difference.

Contributed by: Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Alliance for a Healthier Generation