Missouri school kids were so eager to participate in the “No Kid Hungry Innovation Challenge” that it was a full house when they pitched their ideas for reducing child hunger and food insecurity.
The challenge distributed $14,000 in grants to students who had the most innovative ideas for increasing access to, or participation in, school nutrition programs. That means school meals and snacks or summer meal programs funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Jon Barry, program director of No Kid Hungry Missouri, says it was an opportunity to see hunger through the eyes of students. “To bring students together to help us generate ideas that the students thought were going to be good solutions, workable solutions, to solving or addressing child hunger in their communities,” says Barry.
The most recent estimate by Missouri’s Kids Count shows that 18.6 percent of the state’s kids are growing up in homes that experience food insecurity.
Students who won the challenge and $1,000 grants will use the money to bring their ideas to life. Some of the ideas selected by judges included the “After School Refuel” from Fort Osage High School in Kansas City; “Curb Hunger with Grab-n-Go” [meals] by Macon R-7 and “Cooking for Kids,” from Affton’s Rogers Middle School.
Barry says mentors who worked with students to develop their ideas discovered they were well aware of hunger issues in their schools. “They have friends and they have peers that they see, that they know struggle with hunger for a lot of different reasons,” says Barry. “So, the kids see these issues as problems and so, we were actually surprised at how easy it was for us to recruit school teams to come to the event.”
The No Kid Hungry Innovation Challenge was launched in 2016 with support from the Family and Community Trust, GENYOUTH AdVenture Capital program, and the Midwest Dairy Council.