Our region’s first Child Hunger Summit was held on September 19, 2019. Nearly 300 people attended from all over Ohio and even neighboring states sharing diverse ideas and demographics. The summit’s goal was to drive awareness of child hunger, develop strategies to address the need and empower participants to act. Speakers came from around the state and country, including Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine.
During the Child Hunger Summit, groups met for two sessions to identify three potentially addressable ideas around education, healthcare and innovative programs. As a follow-up, Second Harvest and the Child Hunger Summit Committee identified top-level goals based on three outcomes from each session.
The Education session brought together educators to examine the impact of child food insecurity on our children’s ability to grow, thrive and learn.
Key Second Harvest Priority:
Wrap-Around Services: Improving connections and awareness to wrap-around services
Background: Children and families are not just struggling with food insecurity, buy many other issues as well. Initially, the group suggested creating specific services but upon more conversation agreed the majority of services exist. The concept is how to connect services to each other and make them more accessible to children and families. Initial first steps will include reaching out to educators to identify the needed services.
Early Success: The school social workers from the Education Service Center (ESC) of Lorain County met with Second Harvest staff to learn more about our work and consider ways to address the needs of their students. ESC and Second Harvest are now working together to pilot a food pantry at the Education Service Center for social workers to be able to pack food boxes to take to their student families struggling with hunger.
The Healthcare session allowed health care providers and local health organizations to discuss the impact of food insecurity on the health of children in our community.
Key Second Harvest Focus Area: Creating travelling WIC and SNAP clinics for outreach and education along with completing application for low-income populations.
Background: WIC and SNAP are the two top-line defenses we have to address food insecurity in our region among children. Recent changes made to these programs has deterred some from applying for assistance. In addition to changes in the system, families may lack transportation, access to the computer/internet or little understanding of completing the process and what benefits they are eligible to receive. Establishing a traveling WIC/SNAP clinic is one way to help bridge the gap.
Early Success: Through the state’s SNAP outreach plan, Second Harvest is able to apply for matching funds for outreach, education and applying for SNAP benefits. Based on a plan created by the University of Rhode Island, Second Harvest and Lorain County Community College are exploring the concept of partnering to address outreach and enrollment for SNAP in our community.
The Innovate Programs sessions gave attention to the programs around the state and around the country changing how we address the needs of children The session focused on the barriers in our community and consider what types of new programming could be effective in helping children in our region.
Key Second Harvest Focus Area: Establish county-wide Food Advisory Council to address hunger & community resources.
Background: The focus is to increase healthy food access and consumption through policy, systems and environmental changes.
Early Success: Lorain County Public Health included in their grant application to the Ohio Department for Health for 2020 Creating Healthy Communities the concept of co-creating a Food Advisory Council in Lorain County. The grant was approved and plan will move forward in 2020 to establish a county-wide Food Advisory Council by convening a diverse group of stakeholders committed to food access policy and planning in partnership with Second Harvest.
- John Corlett - Center for Community Solutions
- SNAP: Sandy Moraco - Lorain County Department of Job & Family Services
- WIC: Marissa Wayner - Lorain County Public Health
Thank to our sponsors for making the day possible: BNY Mellon, Buckeye Health Plan, Community Foundation of Lorain County, Landing Point Financial, Lorain County Community College, Nordson Corporation Foundation, Wells Fargo and our Hunger Heroes for their generous support of the summit.