About D.C. Hunger Solutions
Every day in the District of Columbia, nearly one out of seven households struggles with hunger, with uncertain or limited access to, or ability to buy, nutritionally adequate and safe food. D.C. Hunger Solutions, founded by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) in 2002 as a separately staffed and funded initiative, seeks to create a hunger-free community and improve the nutrition, health, economic security, and well-being of low-income District residents.
What's Happening Now
D.C. #1 in the Country for Reaching Children with Summer Meals, Yet Participation Slipping
According to Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, an annual analysis by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), 22,185 low-income children in the District received summer meals on an average day in July 2015 — a decrease of 10.1 percent from the previous summer. Summer meals reached 51.9 low-income students for every 100 low-income children who received school lunch in the 2014–2015 school year, outpacing that national rate of 15.8:100. More...
Action for Healthy Kids Releases 2016-2017 School Breakfast Grants
School Breakfast Grants are being awarded to up to 550 schools, ranging from $500 to $5,000, to support increased breakfast participation. Eligible schools may apply to pilot or expand their School Breakfast Programs, including alternative or universal alternative breakfast models. Submit grant applications online through the Action for Healthy Kids grant portal. Applications are due Friday, April 1, 2016 and awarded schools will be notified by Monday, May 9, 2016. More...
Help Us Celebrate National School Breakfast Week March 7th-11th
The School Breakfast Program was established as a government funded pilot program by Congress in 1966. Soon after in 1975, it became a permanent entitlement program and has continued to expand since then. Without the School Breakfast Program, many children would not otherwise have a nutritious breakfast every morning. Eating breakfast helps students to achieve higher test scores, have fewer absences, eat a more nutritious diet, improved classroom behavior, and visit the nurse less. This week allows students, school staff, faculty, and families to understand the importance of school breakfast, the D.C. Healthy Schools Act, and the benefits that they offer to students in D.C. traditional and charter public schools. National School Breakfast Week also recognizes the contribution of school food service workers and how vital they are to ensuring that students receive a healthy breakfast every day. Check out these helpful resources:
- National School Breakfast Week Flyer (pdf)
- Social Media Toolkit (pdf)
- Food Service Workers Certificate of Recognition (pdf)
- Competition Flyer in English (pdf)
- Competition Flyer in Spanish (pdf)
- School Nutrition Association Website
- Information on the USDA School Breakfast Program
Get your apples ready to #HearTheCrunch on Thursday, March 10th!
#HearTheCrunch is an event during National School Breakfast Week. It aims to highlight the important role of the School Breakfast Program has in ensuring children have access to the healthy food they need. To participate, all you have to do is: grab an apple, take a picture while biting into the apple, tag yourself or your organization in the picture and post it on Twitter or on the DC Hunger Solutions Facebook Page using the hashtag #HearTheCrunch. Check out our flyer (pdf) for more information.
American University partners with Kaiser Permanente to assess the implementation and impact of the 2010 Healthy Schools Act
A team of researchers at American University have recently published a report that details the progress schools have made in meeting the provisions of the Healthy Schools Act, which went into effect during the 2010–2011 school year. According to the report, nearly all D.C. schools are serving meals that meet the higher nutritional standards, the majority have a nurse available and almost half have school gardens. Overall, the study found there has been an increased focus on wellness, but there is more to be done. While the overall number of minutes of physical education in schools has increased since 2010, the majority of schools are struggling to meet the requirements for physical education classes, health education minutes have remained flat over the five-year period, and neither elementary nor middle schools are meeting the required minutes for health or physical education.
The great news is that nutrition requirements are being met widely, and in addition to providing healthier options, the Healthy Schools Act is helping address the larger issue of food insecurity among children in DC by ensuring free breakfast to all students served through alternative service models. Download the report (pdf).
Check out our Info-graphic highlighting the benefits of the WIC Food Package for children ages 2-5
Did you know that the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children - or WIC – not only provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, and access to health care to low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and infants, but also offers a nutritious food package to children up to age 5? All this at no cost to the participants! Are you interested in learning more? View our Infographic in English (pdf) or Spanish (pdf), or visit the D.C. Department of Health's WIC webpage.
Washington, D.C. Among Top in U.S. for School Breakfast Participation
The District of Columbia saw a decline in school breakfast participation, but continues to be at the top of list when looking at the city’s ability to serve school breakfast to low-income children compared to states across the country, according to the annual national school breakfast report released today by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), but participation needs to grow to reach thousands of eligible students. More...
Check out our New Report on the Important Role D.C. Public Libraries Play in the D.C. Free Summer Meals Program
During Summer 2014, D.C. Hunger Solutions collaborated with the DC Public Library to assess the state of the summer meal program at participating libraries. Through interviews with branch managers and librarians and an assessment of participation data, D.C. Hunger Solutions compiled a report that summarizes libraries success in the program and offers suggestions regarding how DC Public Libraries can enhance their role in the D.C. Free Summer Meals Program.
D.C. Hunger Solutions Announces Increase to Minimum Monthly SNAP Benefit
A recent major change to the District’s SNAP Program will benefit more than 12,000 households in all eight wards, according to D.C. Hunger Solutions. The D.C. Department of Human Services retroactively implemented the SNAP Expansion Act of 2014, which increased the minimum monthly SNAP benefit from $16 to $30 using local funding. More...
D.C. Hunger Solutions Conducts Training for the Witnesses to Hunger on Advocacy
On Saturday January 14th Beverley Wheeler, executive director of D.C. Hunger Solutions, held a training for the Witnesses to Hunger on using advocacy to leverage their message and share their experiences living in poverty with the D.C. Government and the community.
The Witnesses to Hunger program, which began in 2008 at Drexel University, combines research and advocacy to raise awareness about the day to day struggles that mothers and caregivers of young children who have experienced hunger and poverty face. The Witnesses take pictures to express the obstacles they face and use them as a way to leverage the conversation around poverty and push legislators to create policies that improve the lives of low-income populations.
The training focused on messaging, using media, and lifting your voice giving the Witnesses the tools they need to work with D.C. Government Officials to create a more just D.C. Thank you to all who participated.
Check Out Our Info-graphic on Data from the New Bread for the World Report
Bread for the World just released their annual Hunger Report, titled Hunger Report 2016: The Nourishing Effect: Ending Hunger, Improving Health, Reducing Inequality (pdf). The report, which focuses on the negative impact of hunger on health, and the pieces that need to be in place to prevent hunger and improve the health of all Americans, contains key information on current poverty data and Federal Nutrition Program participation state by state. Interested in how the District shapes up? View our infographic (pdf).
Help Us Celebrate National School Lunch Week October 12-16th!
National School Lunch Week, founded in 1962 by President Kennedy, is an official celebration of the National School Lunch Program. The week offers school staff, faculty, students, and families the opportunity to acknowledge the importance of healthy school lunch, the D.C. Healthy Schools Act and the benefits that they offer to students in D.C traditional and charter public schools. It also offers the chance to recognize the contribution of school food service workers in ensuring students eat healthy lunch every day (official celebration is Friday October 16th). Check out the resources below and help spread the word about this important week.
- Official National School Lunch Week Announcement
- Communications Toolkit
- Food Service Workers Certificate of Recognition
- School Nutrition Association Website
- Information on the USDA National School Lunch Program
D.C. Hunger Solutions Appoints New Director
Native Washingtonian and policy expert, Beverley Wheeler, became the Director of D.C. Hunger Solutions, an initiative of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), on August 31st. In her new role, Wheeler will spearhead the city's leading anti-hunger advocacy organization in creating a hunger-free community and improving the nutrition, health, economic security and well-being of low-income residents in the District. More...
DCHS Testifies at National Commission on Hunger Hearing
On July 14, 2015 the National Commission on Hunger hosted a public hearing in Washington, DC. More than 40 stakeholders testified including Alexandra Ashbrook, Director of D.C. Hunger Solutions (pdf). The Commission is tasked with submitting a report on policies to reduce domestic hunger and food insecurity to Congress and the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture by October 2015.
Washington D.C. Remains First in the Nation for Reaching Children with Summer Meals
DC continues to rank first in the nation for reaching low-income children with summer meals. according to Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, an annual analysis by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), 24,683 low-income children received summer meals on an average day in July 2014 -- an increase of 3.4 percent from the previous summer. Summer meals reached 59 students for every 100 low-income children who got school lunch in the 2013-2014 school year, outpacing that national rate of 16.2:100. More...
Survey Finds 15.9 Percent of Households in D.C. Struggle to Afford Food
One in six households – 15.9 percent of respondents – in the District of Columbia reported in 2014 they struggled to afford enough food for their households, according to a new report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). More...
DC Families Help Celebrate National School Breakfast Week
D.C. Hunger Solutions, in partnership with other agencies across the city, celebrated DC’s success in connecting students to the School Breakfast Program during National School Breakfast Week, March 2 – 6. To get families involved in the celebration, D.C. Hunger Solutions and the partner agencies held a text competition so that families could share why school breakfast is important to them. See the competition summary and contest winners (pdf).
DCHS Director Testifies at Public Oversight Hearing on the Department of Human Services
DCHS Director Alex Ashbrook testified on March 12, 2015. More... (pdf)
Celebrate National School Breakfast Week with the DC School Breakfast Text Competition
To celebrate National School Breakfast Week, D.C. Hunger Solutions is joining DC agencies and nonprofits in offering the School Breakfast Texting Competition. Through the competition, families at DC public and public charter schools can share why school breakfast is important to them. The contest will begin on Monday, March 2nd and continue until Friday, March 13th; participants will be able to win prizes for their school and for themselves. Share this flyer (English, Spanish) with details on the competition, and help us spread the word about the benefits of school breakfast.
DCHS Director Testifies at Committee on Transportation and the Environment Meeting
DCHS Director Alex Ashbrook testified on February 18, 2015 at public oversight hearing on Department of Parks and Recreation. More... (pdf)
DCHS Director Testimony Online
DCHS Director Alex Ashbrook testified on February 12, 2015 at an oversight hearing, Committee on Housing and Community Development, District of Columbia Office on Aging. More... (pdf)
Washington, D.C. Among Top in U.S. for School Breakfast Participation
FRAC's School Breakfast Scorecard finds that 70 low-income children in Washington, D.C. ate school breakfast on an average day for every 100 that received free or reduced-price lunch during the 2013 – 2014 school year, placing D.C. third in the nation for feeding hungry children. More...
As of January 2015, 285 seniors on waitlist for Home Delivered Meals in D.C.
As of December 2014, 155 seniors were on the waitlist to participate in Home Delivered Meals, a program that delivers nutritious meals to seniors who are unable to shop or prepare food on their own. That number has increased to around 285 seniors in January 2015. It is in the city’s best interest to invest in the safety and care of seniors and ensure that seniors can access vital nutrition support. Follow this link to the letter (pdf) sent to Mayor Bowser and the City Council members on this issue.
D.C. Hunger Solutions is off to a great start with our 2015 SNAP EITC Campaign!
It is not too late to join our growing number of volunteers. We still have two trainings on Thursday, January 29 from 4-7 and Saturday, January 31 from 10-1 — sign up to be a volunteer here. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) season runs from February to mid-April, and our SNAP Outreach Specialists play a crucial role on the EITC team to help connect low-income taxpayers with programs and services that improve their financial stability, including SNAP (formerly known as the food stamp program). Our team of volunteers works to inform the public about SNAP benefits, screen clients for benefits, assist with SNAP application and general case management, and connect residents with other food sources in D.C. To find out more, visit the Community Tax Aid DC’s Volunteer Opportunities page. For additional questions on signing up, contact Lauryn Woodruff at (202) 640-1088 ext. 5059 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winners of the DC Healthy Schools Act Art & Essay Contest Recognized at D.C. Council
Students, families, and teachers from across DC attended the Healthy Schools Act Art and Essay Contest Award ceremony on November 20th at the Wilson Building. The contest, organized by the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) and D.C. Hunger Solutions, encouraged D.C. public and public charter school students to submit artwork, poems, short essays and videos showing why their school is healthy. D.C. Council Members Mary Cheh (Ward 3) and Tommy Wells (Ward 6) gave out the awards to the winning students and schools. This year, OSSE received over 200 amazing pieces of artwork from students in grades Kindergarten - 8th that demonstrated the positive impact that the Healthy Schools Act is having in schools across the District. Follow this link to pictures of the event. Congratulations to this year’s winners and to all students who participated!
Prevent Obesity Profiles DCHS Director Alexandra Ashbrook
Now D.C. leads the nation in connecting children to school breakfast. Each school day, 34,000 children in the District start the day with school breakfast, and the District receives millions of dollars in federal funding to pay for nutritious meals and school food service jobs. More...
Take the SNAP Challenge, October 2-12, 2014
D.C. Hunger Solutions, along with Maryland Hunger Solutions and Virginia Hunger Solutions, invite you to join us in taking the SNAP Challenge (October 6 -12, 2014) to highlight the struggles faced by too many throughout our region who can’t afford the food they need. More...
School Breakfast: Start the Day Ready to Learn
Connecting students to school breakfast is a “magic bullet” for reducing hunger, improving nutrition, and boosting academic achievement, all at the same time. D.C. public and public charter schools have much to celebrate when it comes to ensuring that each student starts the day fueled with a healthy breakfast and ready to the learn. However, there is wide variation in average daily breakfast participation among schools, which means thousands of students are not getting the nutrition they need to succeed. School Breakfast: Start the Day Ready to Learn (pdf) is a comprehensive guide that includes tips on how administrators, principals, teachers, and food and nutrition services staff can help increase breakfast participation and meet the requirements of the D.C. Healthy Schools Act.
PBS Newshour: Why summer is the hungriest season for some U.S. kids
Alex Ashbrook, director of D.C. Hunger Solutions: "[Y]ou can imagine, when schools close for the summer and we have eight or so weeks where there are no school meals, that it’s a crucial time to intervene to make sure kids can get the nutrition they need to grow." More...
D.C. Hunger Solutions Report Shows Positive Impact of Healthy School Act on School Breakfast Participation
Making Breakfast Work in D.C., a new analysis from D.C. Hunger Solutions, looks at school breakfast participation and the impact of the D.C. Healthy Schools Act (HSA) in 72 D.C. Public Schools. The HSA, passed unanimously by the D.C. Council in 2010, made breakfast free for all students and required schools to adopt alternative serving methods, such as breakfast in the classroom, to ensure children had easy access to this meal. More...
Washington D.C. Remains First in the Nation for Reaching Children with Summer Meals
The District of Columbia continues to rank first in the nation for reaching low-income children with summer meals. According to Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, an annual analysis by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), 23,868 low-income children received summer meals on an average day in July 2013 -- a substantial increase of 10.9 percent from the previous summer. Summer meals reached 57.9 students for every 100 low-income children who got school lunch in the 2012-2013 school year, outpacing that national rate of 15.1:100. More...
Good News in the Budget for Reducing Hunger and Improving Nutrition: Three Things You Should Know
D.C. Hunger Solutions applauds the D.C. Council for its passage of a budget that supports important investments in programs that will help the one in eight households throughout the District struggling with hunger. More...
2014 CROP Hunger Walk a Success
The Annual District of Columbia Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty (CROP) Hunger Walk and Food Drive was held on Saturday, May 17th. Participants from across the city walked to raise awareness of hunger in the District and support the work of local anti-hunger organizations. D.C. Hunger Solutions and the Capital Area Food Bank were the local beneficiaries of this year's Walk. D.C. Hunger Solutions would like to extend our thanks to the CROP Walk organizers and participants. Your support helps us to continue our efforts to end hunger and improve the nutrition and health of low-income District residents.
Serving Summer Meals Just Got Easier — New USDA Guidance for Sponsors
Hunger doesn’t take a vacation when school lets out for summer! Fortunately, the DC Free Summer Meals Program provides children and teens with healthy meals and snacks during June, July, and August. New guidance from United States Department of Agriculture Department of Food and Nutrition Services can help ensure that more District youth have access to the meals they need to learn and thrive. Follow this link to some highlights (pdf) of the new provisions related to eligibility and meal service flexibility.
More than 100 D.C. Schools Serving Free Meals to Students in Ongoing Effort to Reduce Hunger
75 D.C. Public Schools and 32 public charter schools with high poverty rates are providing free breakfast and lunch to all students, without requiring students and their families to complete applications. More...
More Than Meals: The Impact of the D.C. Free Summer Meals on Summer Learning
Throughout the summer of 2013, D.C. Hunger Solutions visited summer meal sites in each ward to collect stories about the impact of the summer meals program on DC children and communities. Each of the programs featured received summer meals through the sponsorship of DPR The stories below provide a snapshot of the D.C. Free Summer Meals Program and its role in both attracting children to educational and recreational summer programs and keeping them engaged in activities. These stories provide key lessons for how the District can better leverage public and private partnerships to increase participation and improve health and academic outcomes for youth. More...