Three of Madison’s hunger-relief organizations have joined together as Food for Success, a coalition that will collaborate to end hunger among Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) students, their families, and the community as a whole, according to a statement released Thursday.
Food for Success includes:
- Food for Thought Initiative (Food4TI): a volunteer organization that aims to improve food access and alleviate hunger among MMSD students and their families through in-school pantries and weekend meal programs.
- Selfless Ambition: a charitable organization that aims to reduce the racial achievement gap in MMSD schools through tutors and access to food in school.
- The River Food Pantry: Dane County’s busiest food pantry serving free groceries, meals, clothing and mobile lunches to over 1,000 families per week.
Selfless Ambition operated food pantries at Leopold, Glendale and Lakeview schools over the past school year. The Food for Success coalition will continue to operate those food pantries with the added capacity and efficiency of the three organizations working together, coalition leaders said.
The primary goals of the coalition are to improve students’ access to food; involve students in all aspects of organizing, maintaining, and decision-making about school-based food pantries, and/or weekend food programs; strengthen awareness of healthy food choices, menus, cooking, and nutrition; and support MMSD’s Wellness Plan, according to the press release.
“We joined this coalition because it aligned with our belief that students should be hungry to learn, not hungry,” said Lea Aschkenase, Food4TI Founder, in a statement. “Research unequivocally demonstrates hunger impairs health, learning, behavior and the ability to attend and focus. By working together, we can simultaneously sustain and expand our school-based nutritional support.”
Both Food4TI and Selfless Ambition provide healthy food options to students and their families through in-school food pantries. Food4TI runs pantries in Sandburg Elementary, Hawthorne Elementary, Mendota Elementary, Cherokee Heights Middle, and East High School. Selfless Ambition operates pantries in Leopold Elementary, Glendale Elementary and Lake View Elementary.
Food4TI and Selfless Ambition approached The River several months ago to discuss opportunities to serve more people in a more efficient and sustainable way.
“The vision of The River is a fully nourished community, and this partnership allows us to take another step towards that vision,” said Charles McLimans, The River President/CEO, in a statement. “The Food for Success coalition will empower our community to focus on child hunger through a wider lens. Together, we will serve more food insecure children, along with their families.”
As the fiscal sponsor for Food4TI, The River will work with local food banks, grocery stores and other food providers to offer a more stable and cost-effective food supply for the Food for Success coalition.
“By maximizing our collective resources, we will ensure that our local students and their families will have a stable supply of healthy and nutritious food to help them succeed in school—and in life,” McLimans said.
The coalition will develop standardized food lists for each school to make food orders more efficient. Some schools’ lists will include specific culturally sensitive foods for families.
“My number one priority is to feed our babies,” said Henry Sanders, Selfless Ambition President and CEO, in a statement. “We’ll be able to do that more effectively than ever through this coalition. We’ll be able to get food at better prices, keep the pantries stocked, make sure we have nutritious food that will meet the specific needs of each school community and offer more volunteers the chance to get involved and serve their community. As always, there’s strength in numbers, and I’m proud that Selfless Ambition is part of this dynamic team.”
Sanders is also Publisher and CEO of Madison365.
In addition to streamlining operations to improve cost savings and efficiencies, Food for Success will also collaborate to cross-promote volunteer opportunities across all three partnering organizations to provide the community with more opportunities to get involved.