Announcing: Youthprise Nutrition Program!

Published on January 30, 2015 | Written by

Narrowing the Minnesota Meal GapThriving Youth: Up until January 2015, partners at McDonough Homes in St. Paul could only offer children enrolled in their afterschool programs a snack. Youthprise recently stepped in to help narrow the meal gap for low-income children at this public housing site. Today 100 children can now receive a snack and a complete nutritious meal seven days a week. How? Leveraging its capacity as an intermediary and accessing underutilized federal funding streams, Youthprise is linking its network of quality out-of-school time youth providers to nutritious food. By the end of 2015, Youthprise’s innovative system-wide approach will serve 64,000 meals in 10 sites around the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Our long term goal is to decrease the meal gap for youth in Minnesota by connecting youth to nutritious meals at 40 sites around the state. 

Youthprise—Innovative Transformation: Youthprise strategically combines funding, capacity building, policy advocacy, research, and youth engagement under one roof. This unique combination creates efficiencies, accelerates implementation, and maximizes impact. Youthprise is committed to racial equity and works to address the disparities faced by youth of color and other disconnected youth. Our board, staff, and youth partners reflect the strengths and assets of Minnesota’s diverse communities. The Youthprise Nutrition Program is one of our newest multi-sector efforts, designed to expand community access to nutritional resources and deepen the impact of high quality youth enrichment programs.

The story of Youthprise is the transforming lives, transforming systems and transforming communities. – Wokie Weah, Youthprise President

Hunger & Youth Development—A Critical Link: Eating a nutritious meal every day is not a guarantee for far too many foodchildren in Minnesota. Yet research shows that good nutrition promotes academic achievement for youth. Food insecurity has been linked to behavior issues, depression, and suicide. Across the state, there has been nearly a 50% increase in use of emergency food shelves between 2000 and 2013 (Hunger Solutions). Here in the Twin Cities, the food insecurity rate for children is 15% in Hennepin County and 19% in Ramsey County (Feeding America, 2012). That is, nearly one in five children in the Twin Cities experience hunger.  The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is significantly underutilized in Minnesota, with millions of federal dollars not being accessed by youth providers because they lack required administrative, financial, and/or regulatory capacity.

Youthprise Nutrition Program—A Hub for Huge Impact: The goal of Youthprise’s Nutrition Program is to provide healthy meals to youth during after school hours. Salah Ali, who holds a BA in Food Business Administration, recently joined the Youthprise team as our first Nutrition Manager. Mr. Ali sustains relationships across the full continuum. He recruits and trains qualifying youth-serving agencies from our network of youth providers. He supervises our food vendors ensuring they prepare nutritious meals for our targeted youth, with a special focus on ensuring we offer foods that meet the dietary needs of Minnesota’s diverse cultures. He is in charge of monitoring and reporting on the meals served. To do so, Youthprise uses a customized computerized database designed by the Family League of Baltimore to track program inputs and outputs. In addition, we will survey youth twice a year to assess their opinion on the meals and conduct onsite monitoring at each site at least three times per year. In partnership with Hunger Free Minnesota, Dr. Stacey Stockdill of EnSearch, Inc. serves as the external evaluator of the project. Our goal is to reach 95% efficiency and maximize federal funds and nutrition for Minnesota youth. Indeed, federal reimbursement dollars can ultimately sustain the project. As a transformative intermediary, Youthprise is eliminating barriers and creating access to critical nutrition for youth who might otherwise go hungry, such as the children at McDonough Homes who now can count on a daily nutritious meal.

Thank you to our current supporters: Cargill Foundation, Hunger-Free Minnesota in partnership with the Bush Foundation and UnitedHealth Group, and the Minnesota Department of Education.

For more information about Youthprise and our Nutrition Program, contact Salah Ali at 612.564.4858 or salah@youthprise.org.

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