Food provides the fuel for kids to learn and grow. During the school day, students have access to healthy meals through school breakfast and lunch, but when the school day ends and over the summer, too many children go without.
Fortunately, the afterschool and summer meals programs provide healthy meals when school is not in session. Yet, only 1 in 12 of children living in low-income households who eat school lunch also receive an afterschool meal, and just 1 in 7 receive a summer meal. Luckily, thousands of providers across the country are working tirelessly to change this.
The No Kid Hungry campaign is thrilled to recognize twelve all-star summer and afterschool meals providers as Out-of-School Time Meals Champions! These twelve champions were selected based on their program excellence and dedication to serving their community. They will work with No Kid Hungry over the next year to share their expertise with new providers increasing the availability and quality of summer and afterschool meals across the country.
Here are some highlights from this fantastic group of champions:
Michael Clark – Crane Elementary Schools, Arizona
Michael Clark has worked in school food service for nearly 30 years and is currently the director of school nutrition for Crane Elementary Schools and Adjunct Faculty for the Nutritional Sciences department at the University of Arizona in Yuma, Ariz. Yuma is the country’s winter lettuce capital, and Clark prioritizes this local produce and culturally diverse menus in meals. A strong team allows his program to serve meals year round, including over school breaks. Clark follows the mantra "As good as we are, we can always do better." which is evident in the success of his food programs.
Debra Davidson – Arkansas City Recreation Commission, Kansas
Debra Davidson is the Arkansas City Recreation Commission’s aquatics/special programs director. Davidson started the Kansas community’s summer and afterschool meals programs 17 years ago and continues to lead the effort. She manages purchasing, preparing, delivering and serving every summer and afterschool meal. Davidson is passionate about serving her community and helping neighbors achieve their best life possible.
Annette Dove – Targeting Our People’s Priorities with Service (TOPPS), Arkansas
Annette Dove is the founder and director of Targeting Our People's Priorities with Service (TOPPS). TOPPS provides not just summer and afterschool meal programs but also skill-building classes, mentoring, tutoring and recreational activities to youth and families. For over 20 years, TOPPS has made a difference in the lives of children and families of Jefferson County and the surrounding communities. Dove is passionate about feeding children and hopes to use her platform as an OST Champion to work with new sponsors to increase the availability of summer and afterschool meals.
Andrea Garcia Schoelzel – Office of Children's Affairs, City and County of Denver, Colorado
Andrea Garcia Schoelzel is the health initiatives administrator at the Office of Children's Affairs for the city and county of Denver. Schoelzel is passionate about connecting communities with resources in a manner that honors their inherent worth and dignity. One of the key initiatives to achieve this is Denver’s Tasty Food: Where Denver Youth Eat Free – the city’s summer and afterschool meals program. One of Schoelzel’s greatest successes is working to build strong partnerships with Denver Parks and Recreation and Denver Public Libraries for youth to access meals where they learn and play.
Wendi Huntley – Connecting Kids to Meals, Ohio
Wendi Huntley is the president & CEO of Connecting Kids To Meals (CKM), which provides hot, nutritious meals to kids across areas of northwest Ohio. CKM partners with schools, libraries, community centers, afterschool programs, shelters and other places where kids gather, serving 760,000 healthy meals each year. Under Huntley’s leadership, CKM has grown from serving 48 to 150 summer sites and 18 to 84 afterschool sites across their service region and has won numerous awards for their work.
Jamie Kocsondy – Missoula Food Bank & Community Center, Montana
Jamie Kocsondy is the program manager for Missoula Food Bank & Community Center and oversees the summer and afterschool meals programs, a school day snack program, weekend backpack program, senior nutrition programs and satellite pantry programs for the food bank. Kocsondy has grown the child nutrition programs through strategic community partnerships with YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs and Missoula’s public schools. The program is also able to spend more money on fresh food by utilizing a robust volunteer network that prepares and packs healthy summer and afterschool meals.
Maggie Lynch – MetroWest YMCA, Massachusetts
Maggie Lynch is the director of nutrition services at the MetroWest YMCA in Framingham, Mass.. A registered dietitian, Lynch oversees the summer and afterschool meal programs at the YMCA. Her passion for nutrition and culinary education drives her to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables in their summer and afterschool meals programs. One of their greatest successes has been expanding meal service to Saturday night suppers and holiday breaks – when children are at greater risk of going without a healthy meal.
Alexandra Molina – McAllen Independent School District, Texas
Alexandra Molina has worked for over 25 years in nutrition programs and is currently the executive director of child nutrition & purchasing services at McAllen Independent School District in Texas. McAllen seeks out innovative ways to connect children and their families with year round nutrition – not just while students are in the building. Throughout the year, McAllen ISD offers suppers at all 30 campuses and community sites such as Boys & Girls Clubs and Community Centers. In the summer months, McAllen uses air-conditioned buses to serve in neighborhoods and at splash pads where kids are playing. This has helped make sure all students and their younger siblings have access to healthy meals all summer long.
Kara Moore – Lowcountry Food Bank, South Carolina
Kara Moore is the director of child hunger programs at Lowcountry Food Bank. Moore leads the food bank's child nutrition programs and collaborates with partners across the state to better serve the children in coastal South Carolina. The food bank's central kitchen is able to reach many but not all of the children. However, through innovation and thought leadership, Moore and her team have partnered with rural schools and successfully piloted a freeze and thaw meal program to reach children in the hardest to reach communities with healthy summer and afterschool meals.
Michelle (Missy) Poirier – Jurupa Unified School District, California
Michelle (Missy) Poirier is the director of nutrition services at Jurupa Unified School District and is a trained chef. Poirier began working in school kitchens 10 years ago, and it has fueled her passion for making people happy through food. Jurupa’s programs meet kids and families where they are through evening summer meals and joyful barbecue celebrations. Poirier’s passion is contagious. She shares, “The reason that I am here on this planet is to feed students, our future leaders. To advocate for the needs of my students has become my purpose.”
Mary Rose Vanas – Shelby Public Schools, Michigan
Mary Rose Vanas is the food service director at Shelby Public Schools, a rural community in western Michigan. Vanas leads the team at Shelby Public Schools preparing high quality, nutritious meals from scratch. In addition to running summer and afterschool meals programs for Shelby students and sponsoring local community centers and church groups, Vanas expanded their meals programs to community organizations across the county and neighboring counties. Vanas loves her work, and believes the opportunity to nourish her students is a blessing.
Tony Windsor – Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, Delaware
Tony Windsor is the food program director for Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware and has spent 25 years overseeing the organization’s summer and afterschool meals programs. Windsor spearheaded a two-year project allowing the organization to prepare meals in-house. It now produces thousands of meals daily and delivers to 27 Boys & Girls Club sites as well as community pre-schools, libraries, a Montessori School, and an area mental health and addiction treatment center. In all, Windsor leads the food operation that provides over 2,500 meals daily statewide for Delaware’s youth.
Ways to Help
You too can make a difference in the lives of kids and help champions like these ensure kids have 3 meals a day, 365 days a year. Whatever your strength, there’s a way you can share it to make an impact.
Donate. Just $10 can help provide up to 100 meals for hungry kids. No Kid Hungry works with schools, community organizations, and local leaders across the country to connect kids to the food they need. Your generous donations will help end hunger for kids across the country.