Strengthen a Campaign
Shining a spotlight on childhood hunger and mobilizing influencers to support policy change that make is easier to connect kids and families to healthy food are critical elements of a No Kid Hungry campaign. Use the strategies and tools in this section to engage media, mobilize partners around policy change, and enhance organizational resources to support feeding more kids.
Align Efforts Across Programs
No Kid Hungry campaigns strive to strengthen access to multiple child nutrition programs to ensure kids get the nutrition they need 365 days a year. Schools and other organizations can work across child nutrition programs to provide meals to kids during the school day, after school, and in the summer months. Align your efforts to work across child nutrition programs to more efficiently target outreach to schools and sponsors and increase opportunities for children to get three meals a day all year long.
Raise Awareness about Childhood Hunger
Childhood hunger exists in all communities across the nation. But not everyone sees it. Raising awareness about the presence and impact of childhood hunger will help educate your community about the issue, promote locations where families can get free meals, expand resources and financial support, and encourage implementation of higher quality programs that can reach more children. Use these tools to engage the media, craft compelling stories, raise awareness about your No Kid Hungry community, and other communications tools to help you reach more families in need.
Advocate to Improve Legislative Policy
To end childhood hunger, we must maximize access to federal nutrition and food skills education programs to ensure these programs meet the needs of children and families. Advocating to improve access to federal nutrition programs requires direct engagement with elected officials at the local, state, and federal level, as well as strategic efforts to influence policy changes. These tools will help you understand the major legislation that guides federal nutrition programs, how to engage elected officials, and how to advocate for stronger policies.
Federal and state legislative activities have been proven across the country to increases access to federal nutrition programs.
At the federal level, the three main legislative vehicles that impact federal nutrition programs:
- Child Nutrition Act guides policies and regulations that govern the School Breakfast Program, National School Lunch Program, Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
- Farm Bill includes policies and regulations regarding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and SNAP-Ed.
- Federal budget sets federal funding levels for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and other federal nutrition programs.
Other pieces of legislation are often introduced as standalone policy proposals and can be another effective way to introduce ideas and policy solutions in Congress. The importance of collaboration between state-based organizations and national organizations on federal policy cannot be overstated. Members of Congress want to hear how policies are impacting their constituents so having local voices is critical. Being able to demonstrate national trends and elevate conversations at the national level is also key to ensuring sound policies are advanced in Congress. Learn more about federal legislation at NoKidHungry.org/policy.
State legislative activities, like budgetary appropriations for child nutrition programs - such as Maryland Meals for Achievement - or legislation to mandate participation in the federal nutrition programs in high-need areas, can help to ensure federal nutrition programs are working to meet the needs of kids in your state. Select a program below to learn more about legislative options for your state:
Build a Coalition
Working with a coalition of state and local partners united around a shared plan for policy change will enhance the effectiveness of your work across your community and state. The coalition can serve as a clearing house for resources and information to support your advocacy work, as well as a place to bring new voices into the childhood hunger conversation. This coalition could be a subgroup - action committee or task force - of your No Kid Hungry Collaboration, or it could be a separate work group of key stakeholders from local education, health and business sectors. A unified and diverse set of coalition members will strengthen your advocacy message to elected officials across your state.
Develop Political Will and Engage Elected Officials to Advance Legislation
In order to advance legislation, it's important to engage elected officials at all levels of government in activities to better understand the consequences of childhood hunger and the impact of the federal nutrition programs. This develops the political will to move smart public policies that effectively address the needs of low-income kids and families. Developing political will takes time and repeated engagement with your elected officials in a variety of activities, not just asking for their support or opposition on legislation. Bringing elected officials to a school to observe a successful breakfast in the classroom program, inviting them to visit a summer meals site or arranging for them to attend a Cooking Matters at the Store tour allows elected officials to better understand how the federal nutrition programs impact the lives of their constituents.
Other examples of ways you can engage your elected officials include:
- Develop relationships with the local staff. Staff for your elected officials can be a great resource to help promote your programs and to develop policy ideas for the elected officials.
- Meet with Members of Congress. Work with key stakeholders in your coalition to meet with members of Congress during Congressional recess periods to discuss your work and legislative goals.
- Public opinion pieces. Submit letters to the editor and op-eds to local and state newspapers highlighting your legislative goals. Elected officials at all levels of government take into consideration views of their constituents in local media.
- Relate to issues of interest. Get to know the issues about which your elected officials care most and use those to highlight your childhood hunger work. For example, if education is a top priority, make sure the elected official hears about the positive impact of school breakfast on test scores. Advancing policies that impact federal nutrition programs will have important benefits on health, education, and workforce development policies as well.
- Days of Action. Bring together coalition and community members for days of action throughout the year. Encourage people to engage in social media or calls or emails to elected officials on the same day to magnify your impact.
- Create legislative resolutions. Resolutions are a great way to engage elected officials in encouraging participation in the federal nutrition programs without requiring potentially politically contentious changes to program policies. This will help build the political will for stronger programmatic legislation down the road.
Use the resources below to invite your elected officials to see programming firsthand: