End child hunger in Montana by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.
In Montana, 1 in 5 children struggle with hunger. That’s 45,700 kids in Montana as well as their families. For children at risk of hunger, the number doubles to 92,000 children that have experienced hunger and lack access to nutritious foods at various times each week and month.
The Montana No Kid Hungry campaign was launched in February of 2012. The mission is to end childhood hunger in Montana by ensuring all children get the healthy good they need, every day. This is a public-private-partnership between the Montana Governor’s Office, the Department of Public Health and Human Services, and Share Our Strength. Share Our Strength is a national non-profit association that funds No Kid Hungry State Partners. Essentially, this campaign connects kids to healthy food through improving access to healthy food and nutrition education. To accomplish this work, the campaign collaborates with many organizations and individuals across Montana. Collaboration is the key to success.
As a first effort towards seeking to better align the work of public agencies, private and nonprofit organizations in addressing childhood hunger across the state, No Kid Hungry hired a public consulting firm, Public Knowledge, to complete a Community Assessment. As a result of the assessment, in 2013, the campaign’s 2 main priorities with improving access to healthy food included the Summer Meal Program and the Afterschool Meal Program. By providing grant funding, increasing participation, and increasing the number of summer and afterschool meal programs, MT No Kid Hungry has been able to alleviate hunger for children across Montana.
No Kid Hungry also works with school breakfast programs to provide consistent access to both lunch and breakfast at school. When school is the only consistent source of food in a child’s life, it becomes extremely important to make sure that school breakfast is available at times and places that work for our kids and our schools. Though most schools in Montana have a school breakfast program, most are before school. Many children cannot get to school early. Others would rather play with their friends and skip breakfast, or may choose to skip school breakfast because of the stigma that often surrounds the program. However, schools can make breakfast less stigmatized and more accessible to all students by starting a “Breakfast After the Bell” program. Breakfast After the Bell models are adapted to schools on an on-going basis, but generally take one of three forms:
- Breakfast in the Classroom: breakfast is delivered to each classroom and is eaten in the first 15 or so minutes of class.
- Grab’n’Go Breakfast: breakfast is picked up at the beginning of the day and taken to class, where it is eaten in the first 15 or so minutes, often while doing morning warm-up activities.
- Second Chance Breakfast: breakfast is served after first period; this program generally works best for middle and high school students, who are often not hungry first thing in the morning.
No Kid Hungry provides grant funding to schools and school districts looking to start their own Breakfast After the Bell program. In addition, No Kid Hungry partners with the Prevention Resource Center to place AmeriCorps VISTA members with school districts to assist them in the planning and creation of Breakfast After the Bell programs and other anti-hunger initiatives.
The Director of Montana No Kid Hungry is also a co-chair of the Montana Partnership to End Childhood Hunger, which is a group of diverse representatives from public and private food programs, agriculture, faith groups, businesses, foundations, academic and medical representatives that work together towards ending child hunger in the state. This coalition developed a 10-Step Plan to End Childhood Hunger with specific actions that deal with public and private food assistance programs, and many other factors that can impact access to healthy food for children.
Montana No Kid Hungry partners with Share Our Strength, the Governor’s Office, MT DPHHS, Montana Partnership to End Childhood Hunger, MT Child and Adult Care Food Program, MT Office of Public Instruction, Montana Food Bank Network, Family Career and Community Leaders of America, the Prevention Resource Center, and CHAMPS.
For more information about Montana No Kid Hungry please visit their website:
mt.nokidhungry.org or contact the program’s director Lisa Lee at: LLee@mt.gov or 406-444-3518
For more information about Breakfast After the Bell programs, please contact Linda Cleatus
at LCleatus@mt.gov or (406) 444-3925