Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Swift Factory Tour 9/29

September 29th @ 4:30 PM -- SWIFT FACTORY TOUR
Join the last tour of 2016 and learn about the history of the Swift Factory (Love Lane, aka 5 Corners in Hartford), as well as future plans which coincide with the Hartford Promise Zone efforts. 

 Tour is offered by Community Solutions. Please email Patrick McKenna for more information.

World Food Day

October 17th @ 8:30 AM – Join us for WORLD FOOD DAY 
Featuring a free breakfast and discussion about reducing food insecurity in Hartford.
To be held at The Studio, Billings Forge Community Works (539 Broad Street, Hartford)
Please email Meg Horrigan, Hartford Food System, for more information. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Shine with School Breakfast!

As you may already know, September is Hunger Action Month and Foodshare is focusing on School Breakfast to ensure all of our kids start the day with a healthy meal. As luck would have it, the Wethersfield Food and Nutrition Services Team put together this awesome list of "Top Reasons Why Your Child Should Eat Breakfast at School" and we thought it was way too good not to share!

Getting the word out

Recently, Foodshare's President & CEO, James Arena-DeRosa, attended an event at Seabury in Bloomfield sponsored by the UCONN ALP (Adult Learning Program). James spoke to a group comprised of about 100 seniors on his own personal background and his decision to work in the area of social justice. He also spoke passionately about the need for school breakfast and the impact on our children.

Following his remarks, James entertained questions from the audience, and many left the session feeling inspired and with a greater knowledge of the causes and effects of hunger.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Cornerstone of the Community

A big congratulations to The Cornerstone Foundation, a Foodshare partner, on their grand opening of the Food Cupboard this past week!

A special thanks to the director of the food pantry Glenn Andrews who, sadly, will be moving to Florida in a few weeks. We all wanted to take a moment to wish him and his family the best of luck on their next adventure!

A Model for Breakfast in the Classroom

Lincoln Elementary played host to Foodshare’s School Breakfast Challenge yesterday. With school back in session, connecting kids with healthy food is top of mind for many parents, teachers and administrators. James Arena-DeRosa, President and CEO of Foodshare, took this opportunity to spotlight New Britain for the district’s overwhelming success serving breakfast in the classroom.

“At Lincoln Elementary, more than 700 kids start each day with a healthy breakfast,” according to Arena-DeRosa. “That’s more than 100,000 meals served during the year, at no cost to the kids…and that’s only one school!” 

While many schools across the state are eligible for federal funding to support breakfast in the classroom, less than half of Connecticut kids receive breakfast each morning. “If you live in Hartford, there’s a one in two chance you will not get breakfast. Change needs to happen, and at a much higher level to ensure the decision to operate a breakfast program does not fall to each individual school.” 

Foodshare’s President was joined by School Principal Elaine Cabral, former Assistant Superintendent Ron Jakubowski, and Food Services Director Mike Koch. In the week leading up to this visit, Arena-DeRosa participated in a School Breakfast Challenge, skipping the most important meal of the day to raise awareness during Hunger Action Month.

Join the conversation by commenting below or sharing your thoughts on social media. 
Don't forget to tag @Foodshare and use the hashtag #SchoolBreakfastChallenge.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Day 6: #SchoolBreakfastChallenge

Ate breakfast today
Off to New Britain where 100% of the kids get school breakfast every day! Kudos to the former administrators like Ron Jakubowski who worked for years to make this happen. Special thanks to Principal Elaine Cabral for hosting our visit and to 2nd grade teacher Ms. Ancher for inviting us into her classroom at Lincoln elementary. They both noted that starting breakfast in the classroom in New Britain was a bit of a journey–with some initial resistancebut now everyone embraces it as part of their daily routine. 

Zuraia, a precocious 2nd grader, had my number before I had my coat off. She called me over, “Hey Mister, sit with me for breakfast!” So much for worrying I would be an intimidating presence in the classroom. 

I was immediately struck by the beehive of activity and things moving like clockwork. When administrators are asked to consider breakfast they, along with the janitorial staff and teachers, are typically most concerned with logistics. But if they were to visit Lincoln Elementary in New Britain, they would see there is nothing to worry about. Each kid grabs their own pre-packaged meal provided by the food service teama few minutes of breakfast and social time, some milk, some juice and a banana muffin. When finished, each child would clean up using a special trash (to avoid smell throughout the day), say the pledge of allegiance and move on to their math assignment. 

One young boy Jayden was very proud..."watch me do math," and it was great to see another little girl helping a classmate with his assignment. Ever the professor I couldn’t resist sitting with a kid who was stuck on a problem to help him figure it out. I have written in the blog about studies that often demonstrate the efficacy of school breakfast. But stats aside you can see it in the energy and excitement as the kids start their day. 

Before leaving I had an interesting sidebar with the food service person from Whitsons, Mike Koch. They serve 3,500 meals a week in just this one school (that's over 100,000 in one year!). We started doing that math on meals served system-wide...dollars into the I often speak of the business case for solving hunger. Food is such a basic need and providing it to people who are struggling can certainly improve health outcomes, but it also provides so many communal benefits. It’s hard not to think of the possibilities in Hartford and the almost million dollars a year the city leaves on the table in potential USDA funding for school breakfast. 

This brings my #SchoolBreakfastChallenge to a close. It was an invaluable experience, and I think that next year for Hunger Action Month we may invite more Foodshare staff to participate. I have mentioned several times that this experience will never match the realities of living in povertyI think it's really important that I make this clear. I will go back to my routine, starting each day with a healthy breakfast...not worrying about whether I will have lunch or dinner. For me, this challenge served as a reminder that we can do better...that 1 out of every 2 kids should never have to struggle in school because they are too hungry too focus. 

Now I put forth a challenge to you. Lincoln Financiala proud partner in the fight against hungerhas provided generous support for initial planning and conversations, but we still need a lot more to maximize our impact on this issue. We need your help to answer the question, "What can we do together to leverage the million dollars a year that the City of Hartford leaves on the table for school breakfast, and how can we help other communities in Hartford and Tolland counties expand their school breakfast program?"

James Arena-DeRosa, President & CEO

Join the conversation by commenting below or sharing your thoughts on social media. Don't forget to tag @Foodshare and use the hashtag #SchoolBreakfastChallenge.

You can also follow my fellow CEO at the Connecticut Food Bank, Bernie Beaudreau, as he shares his SNAP Challenge experience this week.