Expansion should be targeted toward areas where you see the greatest potential impact on childhood hunger. A data-driven approach to expansion can help to ensure your summer meal programs reach the right populations and that your resources are placed where they are needed most. Expanding in areas open to productive collaboration and new partnerships can strengthen your impact and enhance program sustainability. Always work to maintain the integrity of your program when expanding.
Spotlight on Denver, Colorado!
Colfax Avenue in Denver is known for its diversity of businesses and residents. It is home to establishments ranging from upscale restaurants to motels housing low-income and homeless families. However, the upscale scene doesn’t tell the whole story. Within a two-mile stretch of Colfax, there are an estimated 15,000 children who qualify for free and reduced-price school meals, which means there are thousands of children who could benefit from a free nutritious meal during the summer. Several Colorado organizations recognized this high need and joined together with a goal of feeding 1,000 children in the neighborhood. At first, the Colfax Community Network coordinated a site that fed 140 kids daily. Now, organizations along the Colfax Corridor have established seven open and two closed summer meal sites in Denver and neighboring Aurora. Community volunteers run the sites, which are located in parks, a library, several churches, and apartment buildings. Fun and educational activities at each keep children entertained for a while before and after they eat. The children receiving meals come from families from at least ten countries, including Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, Ethiopia, and Somalia.
For more information, read Colorado Partners Unite to Fight Summer Hunger.
What worked to make summer meals a success?
- Ability to leverage community resources,
- Direct contact with sponsors from previous summers,
- Family engagement,
- Reaching unserved areas of need,
- Strong partners, and
- Use of existing data to identify target areas for expansion.