The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010, under Section 141, added a new Section 23 on Childhood Hunger Research to the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. This section provides substantial new mandatory funding to research the causes and consequences of childhood hunger and to test innovative strategies to end child hunger and food insecurity. The authorizing program legislation and relevant section for this Request for Application (RFA) is: Childhood Hunger Research Demonstration Projects to End Childhood Hunger (42 U.S.C. 1769d).
The HHFKA provided $40 million to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct and evaluate the demonstration projects. The funding was authorized as of October 1, 2012 and will remain available until September 30, 2017. USDA will commission and oversee a rigorous independent evaluation of each demonstration project. The primary outcome measure for the evaluation will be the change in the prevalence of food insecurity among children as measured by the USDA food security measure. Other site-specific outcomes related to particular interventions may be considered for the evaluation, but will be secondary to food insecurity among children.
The purpose of the demonstration projects is to test innovative strategies to end childhood hunger, including alternative models for service delivery and benefit levels that promote the reduction or elimination of childhood hunger and food insecurity. Projects could include enhanced SNAP benefits for eligible households with children; enhanced benefits or innovative program delivery models in school meals, afterschool snacks programs, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program; and other targeted Federal, State or local assistance, including refundable tax credits, emergency housing, employment and training, or family preservation services, for households with children who are experiencing food insecurity. HHFKA requires that at least one demonstration project be carried out on an Indian reservation in a rural area with a service population having a prevalence of diabetes that exceeds 15 percent.
- Chickasaw Nation: The Chickasaw Nation will implement the Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services Demonstration Project to End Childhood Hunger, which will provide food through home delivery to households with children who qualify for free school meals. Grant amount: $9.7 million.
- Kentucky: The Commonwealth of Kentucky will implement the Ticket to Healthy Food Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Demonstration, which will test the impact of providing households with children an additional transportation deduction that may increase their SNAP benefits. The project will serve the Kentucky Highlands area in the southeastern part of the state – a designated Promise Zone. Grant amount: $3.6 million.
- Navajo Nation: The Navajo Nation Division of Health will implement the Food Access Navigation Project, which will employ Food Access Navigators to evaluate assets and gaps in food access in selected regions of the reservation and provide technical assistance for connecting eligible households to nutrition assistance programs. Grant amount: $2.4 million.
- Nevada: The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health will implement the Nevada SNAP Enhancement Demonstration Project to test the relative impacts on SNAP households with children of (1) an increase in SNAP benefits, and (2) a SNAP increase plus additional outreach, education, and case management. Grant amount: $3.1 million.
- Virginia: The Virginia Department of Education will implement the Virginia Hunger-Free Kids Act Demonstration Project, which will test the impact of providing (1) three school meals a day to all children in select schools during the school year, (2) food for weekends and school breaks, and (3) more resources for low-income households to purchase food during the summer months. Grant amount: $8.8 million.