Feed The Children unveiled a new logo and collaborative vision Monday, as the international humanitarian relief organization launched two new programs designed to combat childhood hunger and food insecurity in Oklahoma City and New Orleans.
Kevin Hagan, Feed The Children’s president and chief executive officer, said the Oklahoma City-based organization has been working for two years to “rebrand” and “revision” how it seeks to reduce food insecurity in America and around the world. He said the new logo includes a brightly colored block representing childhood and colors that represent the five areas of focus: health and water, food and nutrition, disaster relief, education, and its overseas livelihoods program.
Hagan said a key part of the organization’s new model is its commitment to collaborating with other groups to find new and innovative ways to reduce childhood hunger. He said it’s imperative that the organization and others seeking to aid the impoverished abandon the same way of doing things — that is, working separate and apart from other agencies.
“The new Feed The Children is really about challenging the status quo, saying that it’s time that we put our logos and our egos to the side and that we come together as an industry and as a collaborative of people, compassionate people ... that we weave together this very compassionate group to tackle one of the deepest ills in this country, which is childhood hunger,” Hagan said during an interview at Feed The Children’s headquarters, 333 S Meridian.
“For too long, we thought we could do it alone, but the truth is, it takes the collective power of all of us — corporate partners, nonprofit partners, church partners, the governments with which we work. We have to be innovative and be willing to try new things.”
Hagan said Feed The Children is expanding its partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Oklahoma Summer Food and Education Program.
He said the pilot program was launched June 2 at 11 summer feeding sites in Oklahoma, where children 17 and younger are offered not only a free lunch through the traditional summer meal program, but an opportunity to continue their education through free school supplies and learning activities.
“One thing we know is education is the key to getting people out of poverty,” Hagan said.
Hagan said an estimated 115,000 food boxes — most paid for with private funding — will be given to children at the free lunch sites this summer. He said children will be allowed to take the boxes home to provide nutritious food for evenings and weekend meals. Hagan said this is a test to find out if the additional food provided in the food boxes will help offset the USDA’s requirement that food provided as part of the traditional lunch program can’t be taken off site.
Hagan said Oklahoma ranks 51st in the nation, including the District of Columbia, for its efforts to offer the free summer meals. However, he said the new program should help bolster those efforts.
Feed The Children is working to implement a new Community Food and Education Oasis project in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, Hagen said, where residents are still suffering from the impact of Hurricane Katrina, which happened in 2005. He said it is another pilot project but won’t be fully functioning until 2015.
Hagan said as part of the New Orleans project, Feed The Children has identified a “food desert,” an urban area where people do not have easy access to affordable, fresh produce. He said the organization plans to address the issue head-on by:
Building a self-sustaining community-owned grocery store;
Building a community center where residents will learn healthy cooking skills;
Starting a “Care Group” program that will train 100 volunteers from the 9th Ward to act as peer educators to help promote better nutrition among their neighbors.
“We know one thing as Americans, particularly around New Orleans, is that culture is defined by its food and its history. So we know that in order to really cause systemic change, we have to go in and be culturally respectful of that heritage. The community center will allow us to teach ways to produce culturally relevant food items, but in healthier ways,” Hagan said.
Hagan said the Care Group model and some of the other concepts to be utilized have proven successful in Feed The Children’s programs in other countries.
“We’re hoping to take many of the lessons we’ve learned in our international work overseas and actually bring them right back here to the home front.”