Reducing Childhood Hunger (Harford County FY18 and beyond - Annual)

Program Summary

The Reducing Childhood Hunger (RCH) program provides a client choice model, case management, and food advocacy.  Instead of being a pre-packaged/pre-weighed system, the food pantry will be a self-serve model where client can “shop” for their own groceries using a point system, giving clients the freedom to choose foods that are most appropriate for their own family situation. The case management component will provide clients with a one-on-one time to address individual needs and develop strategies for financial management, discuss access to other government benefits, and formulate a plan for job searching if applicable. The food advocacy coordinator will develop a curriculum for six-week program under the guidance of No Kid Hungry’s Cooking Matters program.  Adults will attend course in a student-centered environment to learn the basic skills of budgeting, shopping for food, making healthy choices, planning menus and cooking nutritious meals for their families.  The goal of the program is to help families become more self-sufficient, have more predictable food security, and make strides toward economic stability.

Target Population

Services provided to low-income families in Harford County with a special emphasis on zip code areas Edgewood, Abingdon, Aberdeen, Belcamp, Havre de Grace and Joppa.  

Data Discussion

FY21: Due to COVID-19, all aspects of programming went virtual.  In-person program services were affected. 

Measures
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Current Target Value
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Story Behind the Curve

Maryland has been focused on connecting children and families to federal nutrition programs and ending childhood hunger.  The "No Kid Hungry" campaign started in Maryland in 2008 through Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit whose mission it is to end childhood hunger.  The campaign connects children and youth in need with nutritious food and teaches families how to cook healthy, affordable meals.  

Harford County food insecurity is at 8% compared to 11% of Maryland based on the Robert Wood Johnson 2018 County Health Ranking.  The County is also at 4% compared to 3% of Maryland with limited access to healthy foods.  In Harford County, there has been an increase since 2010 of Free and Reduced meals in the schools for children.  The schools with the highest enrollment are located in the Route 40 cooridor, an area with the highest poverty.  Participation in the school breakfast program in 2015-2016 school year was 49%.  

In FY18 and FY19 the program has met target goals and participants have provided positive feedback about the program.  The biggest challenge was transporation for clients.  Several clients either cannot drive, do not own a vehicle, and clients that do have vehicles can barely afford gas.  The location of the program was moved in FY19 to another Harford Community Action agency building were there is bus service.    

Partners
  • Harman's Farm Market (Churchville, MD) provided tour to clients to teach them how local farms operate and provided recipes and crops to take home.
  • Jayne Klein is licensed dietician from Shoprite grocery store works one-on-one with clients on individualized health needs.
  • Harford County Department of Social Services collaborates by bringing youth in foster care (18 and older) to participate in the program.  They are in need of life skills to prepare them for independent living and aging out of the foster care system.  
  • Havre de Grace Middle School
  • Grace Church in Aberdeen
Local Highlight

In FY19, the RCH program made two new partnerships with Havre de Grace Middle School and Grace Church in Aberdeen.  The RCH coordinator taught a six-week Food Advocacy course over a six month period to middle schoolers.  The students came from very low income backgrounds and not only faced hunger, but homelessness and parents who had substance abuse issues and/or incarceration involvement, making everyday life very difficult.  School personnel reported they see the children talk and participate more in the course then they do all week in their normal class.  The RCH coordinator also conducted a Focus Group with nine students.  They participated in an grocery store tour and planned breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a budget of $20 from reading the sales flier.  They presented their findings to the instructors, Harford Community Action Agency exectuive staff and the Local Management Board.  The RCH coordinator taught a monthly class to patrons attending the weekly group dinner prepared by Grace Church.  There is a significant homeless population as well as low-income clients who attend the dinner.    

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