Lessons Learned 

The No Kid Hungry and SBHA Learning Network Stakeholder Final report comprises eight key informant interviews with SBHC learning network participants, two focus groups with state and youth stakeholders, and a School-Based Health Alliance State Affiliate Leaders survey. Participants remarked on the economic and social barriers to sustainable programming that addresses food insecurity in SBHC settings. Key themes, lessons learned and recommendations emerged as relevant for future projects and funding and are summarized below.   

  • Considerations: what is essential for our center to evaluate?  How can addressing food security for students and families support our Center’s goals and mission?  How will we know if we are successful in helping families and improving food security?  What are some realistic process measures, as well as outcome measures, that can demonstrate success?   
  • Example measures from the learning network 
  • Template evaluation plan  
  • Communicating impact and success to the community, other stakeholders, and partners  
  • Training for staff 
  • Food Insecurity screening using Electronic Health Record (EHR) is replicable in almost any center.  Most EHRs have systems already in place for this 
  • Partnerships are essential to successful implementation. Engage partners early.  Communicate and set clear expectations.  
  • Flexibility and patience.  Partnerships and implementation takes longer than expected.  Must be flexible to adjust to community needs and feedback. Get input from a variety of stakeholders 
  • Creating solutions that meet local needs and capacity.  Survey families and partners and explore what already exists and what the barriers may be to participation.  Attempt to mitigate obstacles in the planning process.  
  • Provide wrap-around support with cooking/nutrition classes to enhance your food program.   
  • Plan for staffing or volunteer support that will be needed.  Backup/contingency plans.   
  • Incorporate Food Insecurity screening into your Center workflow 
  • Ask students and families if they are participating in food programs 
  • Provide flyers to all families about food resources available 
  • Identify other food resources available in your community  
  • Partner with local nutrition education resources 

Themes & Recommendations
 
Key Take-Away
 
Individualization of approach  Due to variations in funding and structural systems, efforts should be individualized and localized to meet the needs of communities and appropriate student age levels. Future learning networks aim to recognize what is “universal” and what needs to be tailored in community efforts to address food insecurity. State-level networks or third-party entities can support needs assessments within targeted communities or geographical areas. 

A realistic timeline for growth & expansion 

  

For those in learning networks or cohort efforts, implement a realistic or expanded timeline that accounts for summer interruptions or the development of foundational internal infrastructure that supports program development or expansion. 

Dedicated staffing 

  

Acknowledge and support solutions for adequate and dedicated staffing to support program activities, including day-to-day activities, community outreach, and building community partnerships. 

Stigma reduction 

  

Provide resources and strategies for reducing stigmas and increasing awareness around food insecurity that prevent families and students from accessing services. Additionally, leverage parent-teacher organizations (PTOs) through funding and support the implementation of larger marketing programs to introduce students and families to the new food programs and increase community buy-in.  
Policy Advocacy  Provide advocacy for universal free lunch, removal of barriers around utilizing EBT or SNAP, state-level subsidies to farmers, increased minimum wage, addressing food availability and access within healthcare initiatives, and addressing inconsistencies in federal, state, and community-level funding and policy efforts. Participants explicitly requested that “politics get out of the way.”  

State-level support  

(via learning networks) 

  

State-level networks are needed to develop further and expand food security and nutrition education programming and assist with sharing resources and experiences by assisting with funding, policy, peer learning, coalition building, or structural efforts. State-level networks can better support individualized responses that meet the needs of each community until larger policy changes can occur regarding food insecurity.  

Assumptions: 1) State leaders are interested in addressing food insecurity in partnership with SBHCs; 2) Food insecurity and nutrition programs in SBHCs are able to develop relationships with local community partners.  

External Context: 1) Federal and state policies that address food insecurity; 2) Political climate around funding SBHCs and food insecurity programs; 3) Funding for staffing and sustainability of food insecurity programming