Federal Nutrition Programs
As Wisconsin’s leading anti-hunger organization, Hunger Task Force advocates for fully funded and properly administered federal nutrition programs. Click below to learn more about the programs we care about and fight for to feed families.
FoodShare—formerly the food stamp program—is the first line of defense against hunger. Participants receiving benefits use a debit style card to purchase healthy foods from grocery stores or Farmers’ Markets. FoodShare is called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at the federal level. Program benefits are funded 100% by the government.
Hunger Task Force conducts FoodShare Outreach in Milwaukee County in four different community-based locations.
School Breakfast Program
The School Breakfast Program allows any enrolled school, public or private, to receive financial reimbursement for breakfasts that meet specific nutritional guidelines set by the USDA. Akin to the National School Lunch Program, cost per meal is based on household income. Students qualify for free meals with a household income below 130% of the federal poverty level, and for reduced-price meals with a household income below 185% of the federal poverty level.
While Wisconsin has seen growth in participation in the School Breakfast Program, the state continues to lag behind the national average in two areas:
- 1. The number of schools participating in the School Breakfast Program (Wisconsin ranks 51st in the nation)
- 2. The ratio of free and reduced-price meal eligible students participating in the School Breakfast Program of those that participate in the National School Lunch Program (Wisconsin ranks 35th in the nation)
Hunger Hurts Education
- Many kids don’t get breakfast before school and come to class hungry.
- Some kids haven’t eaten since school lunch the previous day.
- Hungry kids have trouble concentrating, lack energy, show poorer academic performance and can cause more discipline problems.
School Breakfast is Good for Kids
- Breakfast addresses a major barrier to learning.
- Schools that offer free breakfast to all students report decreases in discipline, visits to the school nurse and tardiness, and increases in focus and grades.
- Kids that eat breakfast score 17.5% higher on math test scores and attend 1.5 more days per year, giving them a 20% boost in the odds they’ll graduate from high school.
There are many strategies to improve participation in School Breakfast. The strategy that has proven most effective time and again is changing the time and place that breakfast is offered. Hunger Task Force advocates for Breakfast After the Bell so that all students have access to breakfast.
Breakfast After the Bell is the Best Option
- For students: Breakfast After the Bell eliminates the stigma of singling out low-income kids, reduces trips to the nurses office and improves performance in school.
- For teachers: Breakfast After the Bell increases student focus, eases the strain on teachers who spend time refocusing hungry students and prevents teachers from spending their own money on food for kids.
- For parents: Breakfast After the Bell means that all kids in your child’s classroom are ready to learn and eliminates the need for hungry kids to rush to school early.
- For administrators: Breakfast After the Bell increases participation and revenue while decreasing disciplinary office referrals.
Breakfast After the Bell Models
- Breakfast in the Classroom serves breakfast in the classroom at the beginning of the school day. Students eat breakfast at their desk while they settle in, the teacher takes attendance and morning announcements are made. This is most popular in elementary school classrooms and yields high participation rates.
- Grab-and-Go Breakfast allows students to pick up breakfast from a service kiosk in high-traffic areas when they arrive at school. This model eliminates the need to stop in the cafeteria. Grab-and-Go has seen positive results in middle and high school settings.
- Second Chance Breakfast offers exactly what it implies – a second chance for students to eat a healthy meal. After first period ends, there is an extended passing period where students can either pick up breakfast on their way to second period or eat breakfast in the cafeteria. This alternative model is typically employed in high schools.
Community Eligibility Provision
Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is an innovative federal program targeting high-need schools. CEP replaces traditional free and reduced-price meal applications with a school-wide rate of reimbursement for meals served. Schools and districts enrolled in CEP can serve all students breakfast and lunch free of charge.
The key to Community Eligibility Provision is having an Identified Student Percentage (ISP) of 40% or more. Identified Students are those who have already been identified as low-income by federal anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. These include FoodShare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, W-2 assistance group, students in foster care or Head Start, or any student who is homeless or migrant. Identified Students are then directly certified for free meals without needing to fill out meal applications.
Schools, groups of schools or districts with an ISP at or above 40% can opt to enroll in CEP to serve 100% of school breakfasts and lunches free of charge to the entire student body. Federal reimbursement for meals served is determined based upon the percentage of Identified Students coupled with the current USDA multiplier of 1.6. This multiplier accounts for the undercount of low-income students that results when households do not participate in the programs for which they qualify. As the Identified Student Percentage increases, the amount of federal reimbursement increases as well.
- States typically see a 10-20% increase in participation, meaning fewer kids are going hungry.
- Higher participation and reimbursement rates lead to significantly higher reimbursement revenue.
- One of the leading causes low-income children do not participate in school meal programs is the stigma associated with kids that need the “free” breakfast or lunch. When free meals are served to all students, regardless of family income, stigma is reduced.
Did Wisconsin Do Well Implementing CEP?
In a word, YES. In the 2014-15 school year, Wisconsin ranked 11th nationally in CEP implementation with 51% of all eligible schools adopting CEP. Of the highest poverty schools in Wisconsin (schools with an Identified Student Percentage over 60%), 79% adopted CEP in the first year.
The success of Community Eligibility Provision in the first year of implementation lead to program expansion. As of September 2015, an additional 34 schools were enrolled in CEP. Schools across the state are feeding more children and saving money in the process. Of the 248 Wisconsin schools qualified for CEP, 30 have an Identified Student Percentage greater than 62.5%, meaning they will increase their revenue.
Is your school or district eligible? Did they enroll? Check out the list here.
Summer Food Service Program
The Summer Food Service (SFSP) provides nutritious meals to children during the summer months. Hunger Task Force organizes a nationally recognized summer meals program that provides three meals a day to children through SFSP and Kohl’s Serving Up Supper for Kids.
Women Infants & Children (WIC) Program
The Women Infants & Children Program (WIC) is a federal nutrition program that supports low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children up to five years of age with nutritious foods and nutrition education.
Child and Adult Care Food Program
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides nutritious meals for low-income children enrolled at child care centers, family child care homes, after-school programs and homeless shelters. CACFP also provides meals to senior citizens attending non-residential day care centers.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program (Stockbox)
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program—known as Stockbox—provides a box of supplementary food to low-income seniors every month. Hunger Task Force delivers nearly 9,000 Stockboxes each month at local senior centers and subsidized housing sites. Hunger Task Force also administers the Senior Farmers Market Voucher Program, which provides seniors with $25 vouchers to purchase fresh produce at local farmers markets.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program
Hunger Task Force administers The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in Milwaukee County. TEFAP provides healthy emergency food, which is distributed free of charge to local pantries.
SNAP Nutrition Education
Hunger Task Force runs a unique child nutrition education program in collaboration with Milwaukee Public Schools. Our Dietitian Educator teaches a nutrition curriculum at five schools during the school year and hosts five Community Learning Center (CLC) programs at the Farm throughout the summer. The program is free of charge and targets low-income kids. They learn healthy eating habits and recipes, and taste-test fresh produce.
During the growing season, students make field trips out to our Farm to receive hands-on experience planting and harvesting produce in our quarter-acre school garden. The Farm’s new kitchen facility also creates a special place for kids to taste-test and prepare healthy recipes with their garden produce. The program also incorporates physical activity with hiking trails and full-scale exercise equipment at the Farm.
Nutrition Program Quick Facts
- Over 300 kids from 5 MPS schools participated in 2014.
- Over 250 kids from 5 CLC sites participated in the summer of 2014.
- Schools have a free & reduced price meal participation rate of over 80%.
- Students made close to 60 field trips to the Farm throughout the growing season.
- Over 60 types of fruits, vegetables and herbs are grown in the Farm’s school garden.
Contact Lauren Haska at (414) 238-6475 or lauren.haska(at)hungertaskforce.org