Durham Receives $125,000 CHAMPS Grant to Combat Childhood Hunger

Durham Receives $125,000 CHAMPS Grant to Combat Childhood Hunger

Under the leadership of Mayor Steve Schewel, the City of Durham is one of six cities that will be      expanding its fight against childhood hunger thanks the recent award of a CHAMPS grant.

The National League of Cities (NLC) and the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) has awarded the City a $125,000 grant and 18-months of technical assistance to help expand afterschool and summer meals programs to reduce the food insecurity many local families face.

"We are thrilled to have this grant and we will be using it to increase the capacity to serve meals through Durham Public Schools, the Durham County Department of Social Services, and community partners,” Mayor Schewel said. “Our goal is to triple the number of children and families served after school and in the summer from 5,000 to 15,000 per day over the next four years. We will also be opening more sites to serve meals when school is not in session, and the reimbursement for these meals will come through federal programs. This will strike a major blow against childhood hunger in Durham."

According to the NLC, more than 41 million Americans live in households struggling with food insecurity. The impact of everyday hunger can be long-lasting, and have negative impacts on children’s health, academic performance, and eventually employment. Mayors and other city leaders have significant roles to play in ensuring that children and other vulnerable populations have access to nutritious meals.

For the past six years NLC, with the support of the Walmart Foundation, has partnered with FRAC on the CHAMPS Initiative to help cities address the issue of childhood hunger by expanding participation  in the federal Summer and Afterschool Meal Programs. Cities received grants and technical assistance from NLC, and the initiative has helped 71 cities feed over 140,000 children more than 12 million meals.

Despite the success of this program, NLC recognizes that there is much more that cities and city leaders can do to alleviate food insecurity in their communities. For instance, summer and afterschool meals are important, but not the only federal nutrition programs that can be accessed to mitigate  hunger in communities.

"With mayors at the forefront of these local anti-hunger campaigns, we know that cities can improve the health and well-being of children and families in their communities,” said Clifford M. Johnson, executive director of National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families. “The grant and technical assistance that these CHAMPS cities will receive allows them to find new ways to address hunger and brings the full force of a city, its agencies and staff, nonprofit providers, and business and community leaders at large together to make sure that children have access to the regular meals they need to grow and thrive.”

Cities can take advantage of all available federally-funded nutrition programs, including school breakfast and lunch, Afterschool and Summer Meals, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to reduce food insecurity. Fully utilizing available funding and outside support can help cities reach more children and families and bring in federal dollars to support local economies.

The funding and technical assistance provided by NLC and FRAC to the CHAMPS cohort will lead to an expansion of summer and afterschool meal sites serving an additional 14,850 meals. The initiative will also help city departments work more collaboratively, bring more willing local partners to the table, and create new campaign models that other cities can replicate which will be shared via statewide  convenings and by NLC.

In addition to Durham, the five other cities receiving grants and technical assistance from NLC and FRAC, including Allentown, Pa.; Jackson, Miss.; Little Rock, Ark.; Miami Gardens, Fla.; and Winston-Salem, N.C.

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