Outreach Program Offers Resources for Dialogue and Action on Hunger

Rick-Photo-251x300This blog is a guest post by Rick McNary, Vice President of The Outreach Program. McNary, who works closely with Universities Fighting World Hunger and partnered with them to start the Kansas Hunger Dialogue, has a passion to engage college students in the fight against hunger. Outreach founders, Floyd and Kathy Hammer, were on hand at the United Nations Charter signing of Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH), an initiative to engage presidents on campuses across the U.S.

Last year, The Outreach Program, a nonprofit based in Des Moines, Iowa that engages volunteers across the U.S. to package meals for domestic hunger, was looking for a new way to partner with college and university campuses. I discovered that Iowa Campus Compact had received an award from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to allocate MLK Day of Service Mini-Grants to Campus Compact colleges throughout the nation and saw an opportunity.

Historically, Outreach has required organizations to host large events in order to cover the cost of travel and event management. These events have been successful, but weren’t a good fit for everyone. Creating something on a smaller scale that did not require Outreach staff to travel was needed: enter the DIY Kit. The Do-It-Yourself Meal Packaging Kit offers a solution for campuses looking to host smaller meal-packaging events and does not require Outreach staff presence to administer.

Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa hosted a meal packaging event for MLK Day 2016.

In 2016, four colleges in Ohio and two in Iowa received MLK Day of Service Mini-Grants to host meal packaging events using the DIY Kit. It worked well, but we needed a way to help those doing the packaging understand the larger issues that contribute to hunger. We wanted to turn them into advocates for change and not just volunteers for the day. I think hunger is the world’s most solvable problem and as I look across the landscape of our culture and ask myself who can solve it, we must start with universities, colleges, and community colleges. They are the key to ending hunger; they are the future.

Therefore, the Do-It-Yourself Meal Packaging Kit has now been combined with a Do-It-Yourself Hunger Dialogue Toolkit to provide additional activities to extend the impact of the meal packaging event. The Toolkit was created by two AmerCorps VISTA members for Outreach and includes a guide to planning a dialogue with presentation and other materials and key facts about the issue of food insecurity.

Campuses interested in hosting a dialogue or meal packaging event can reach out to us directly for more details and information. MLK Day of Service grant applications are due Friday, September 30.

The Outreach Program engages volunteers across the U.S. in corporations, academic institutions, faith-based organizations, civic groups and government agencies to package meals for domestic hunger programs. Outreach has four different domestic meals they’ve created with Iowa State University’s Food Science Department to be nutritious and tasty.

For more information, contact Tyler James: Email: communityresource {at} outreachprogram(.)org or by phone, 515-287-9167.