Different but Still the Same

I’ve heard it said many times that no two food banks are exactly the same. This phrase didn’t really seem true until recently. I had the opportunity to attend the Agency Capacity, Programs and Nutrition Learning Conference sponsored by Feeding America in Chicago. The conference was great, the weather was great, and the company was also great! There were about 400 other food bankers from all over the nation looking for the opportunity to network and share great ideas.

It was especially exciting getting to attend various sessions about childhood hunger programs. Programs such as the Backpack Program, Kids Cafe, and School Pantries were heavily discussed. I have been working rather closely with the School Pantry program here at the Regional Food Bank, so any session that discussed some aspect of that program, I was there! So many food banks are attempting to embrace this new program as a way to reach different child populations. I was excited to hear about all the various models of the program. Food banks in the network offer mobile pantries, temporary in-school set up, or permanent in-school set up. Regardless of the model, one thing that remains the same among all of the food banks is that our main goal is to provide hunger relief.

At the conference, there were several break-out sessions that addressed the importance of raising hunger awareness. From Sesame Street educating the younger population, to making changes in Capitol Hill, the issue remains that hunger truly exists and it is our responsibility to make sure everyone is informed about the issue. It was very reassuring knowing that there are so many organizations around the nation seeking to provide assistance to those in need. While each food bank in the Feeding America network may vary in size, capacity, and even the number of child hunger programs they have, we are all advocates for ending hunger.

Traci Simmons
Childhood Hunger Corps
Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma

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