Cities of Service debuted Community Tables – the latest in its library of blueprints that help cities to harness the power of volunteers and co-produce solutions that effect measurable results on priority issues. The Community Tables blueprint provides mayors and city executives with specific steps and tools with which to better engage citizen volunteers on the critical issue of food insecurity, and specifically to help ensure that all children from low-income communities participate in and receive adequate nutrition through summer food service programs. In partnership with ConAgra Foods Foundation, Cities of Service created Community Tables to help to improve the percentage of eligible youth who receive the federally funded, state administered and city run meals benefit designed for school-aged youth under age 18.
“Mayors across the country are looking for tested strategies to engage their communities around quality of life issues in their cities. Community Tables builds on Cities of Services’ signature approach working with mayors and their cabinets year-round to harness citizen volunteers and produce deeper impact,” said Cities of Service Executive Director Myung J. Lee. “We are thankful to ConAgra Foods Foundation for elevating the issue of food insecurity and for supporting us to provide critical support to cities to address it. Participating mayors will be uniquely situated to raise awareness about hunger and can catalyze collaborative partnerships to improve the reach and results of available federal resources like summer meals.”
“After two decades of investing in programs and research to put solutions to child hunger within reach, we have learned that the more people become aware of the severity of food insecurity, the more they want to be a part of the solution,” said Kori Reed, vice president Cause & Foundation at ConAgra Foods. “Volunteers are often unclear about how to get involved and which activities will yield the best results for children and their families. We see the influence and leadership of local elected and appointed officials as a critical asset to help ignite volunteerism around critical issues such as hunger. Our partnership with Cities of Service will help mayors and others harness citizen engagement through volunteerism and drive local change through tools like the Community Tables blueprint.”
The Cities of Service Community Tables blueprint is part of an anti-hunger initiative the ConAgra Foods Foundation will launch later this year to advance communities’ efforts to address hunger in their own backyards. The Community Tables blueprint outlines steps required for success and urges cities to work with citizen volunteers who can provide critical support to schools and community organizations by canvassing and performing outreach, helping to prepare and serve meals, and providing enrichment activities for children — so that more youth benefit from an important resource.
Success Story: City of Philadelphia
The Cities of Service blueprint aims to inspire and enable cities to increase the number of youth who can receive a summer meal. In recognizing the need to provide Philadelphia youth with summer meals and complementary programming throughout the school holiday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, a member of the Cities of Service coalition, launched the “Fun Safe Philly Summer” in 2011. The program leverages impact volunteering to enhance summer recreation and to increase the number of meal sites at which youth can be served. Local residents supervise the city’s Play Streets, which make up approximately two-thirds of official meal sites, where they offer USDA-funded summer meals as well as free outdoor games and activities throughout the week. As a result of this and additional partnerships with national service resources and other stakeholders, the city increased the number of summer meals served to local youth by 46% — more than 4 million meals during summer 2014. Many of these tested elements are encapsulated in the Community Tables blueprint, along with tips to achieve them.
Get the Blueprint
Community Tables can be downloaded here.
Technical assistance and more are available to cities whose chief executives belong to the Cities of Service coalition. Join the coalition here.
About Cities of Service
Cities of Service is a national nonprofit that supports mayors and city executives to design and implement high-impact volunteering initiatives that can apply to multiple issues from supporting youth and education to sustainability. It provides technical assistance, programmatic support, planning resources, and funding opportunities. Founded by Michael R. Bloomberg in 2009, Cities of Service is a nonpartisan coalition which currently supports a coalition of more than 200 cities in the U.S. and UK whose mayors are committed to engaging citizen volunteers to solve local pressing challenges. Cities of Service helps coalition cities share solutions, best practices, and lessons learned, as well as spreads awareness about meaningful work happening in cities. Visit citiesofservice.jhu.edu to get involved, and follow @citiesofservice on Twitter and Instagram.
About the ConAgra Foods Foundation
The ConAgra Foods Foundation, through its Nourish Today, Flourish Tomorrow platform, is dedicated to raising awareness of the nearly 16 million children in America who are at risk of hunger and don’t have enough food to live active, healthful lives. It aggressively pursues sustainable solutions in the fight against child hunger. And the Foundation is committed to building a community of people who are passionate about ensuring that all kids have access to the food and facts they need to eat nutritiously while living balanced lifestyles and succeeding in school and life. ConAgra Foods Foundation invests in national and local partnerships with high-impact, not-for-profit organizations, such as Feeding America, that take an innovative approach to addressing needs in the core areas of hunger and nutrition education. For more information, please visit www.conagrafoodsfoundation.org.