Who Feeds Hungry Kids in Summer?


It’s a good question. According to the USDA, more than 22 million schoolchildren are eligible for free or reduced-price meals during the year through the National School Lunch Program, but during the summer, only 1 in 6 of those kids participate in the Summer Food Service Program. (The federal government is seeking to address that shortfall with the Seamless Summer Option, which offers local school districts a streamlined approach to feeding hungry children.)

Of course, the question of hungry kids in summer is part of a larger problem – hunger in American homes generally. A widely quoted statistic, from the Food Research & Action Center, a national advocacy group working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the U.S., says that 1 in 6 families suffer from food insecurity.

Many nonprofits and advocacy groups are working to address that imbalance, in a wide range of ways.

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals.

Feed the Children connects donors, experts, partners, leaders and communities to attack the hunger problem from all angles.

Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, with a powerful and efficient network of 200 food banks across the country.

Food and nutrition have long been issues of concerns for many Junior Leagues.

In fact, action by the Junior League of Brooklyn in successfully petitioning the New York City Board of Education led to free lunches in schools there, a program that later became the model for the National School Lunch Program.

Many other Leagues are still creating innovative ways to deal with hunger insecurity and children in their communities.

And then there’s AJLI’s Junior Leagues’ Kids in the Kitchen program, now in its 10th year, and adopted by more than 200 Junior Leagues in four countries.

By the way, if you’re looking for some healthy and nutritious kid snacks and meals from the KITK cookbook, try these!

*This article was originally published in The Civic Lede, an official publication of The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., and has been reprinted with permission.  The Civic Lede spotlights notable developments in philanthropy, not-for-profits, women’s interests, voluntarism and leadership, and offers commentary on the issues on which The Junior League has been active for many years.

Fresh Express Continues Valley-Wide Reach

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Fresh Express is covering the Valley and continues to be a great partner!

fresh express 2In March, we had two unique opportunities to work with them. On the first day of March Fresh Express was a finalist at Fast Pitch by Social Venture Partners. The Junior League of Phoenix was there to cheer them on and educate attendees about the Fresh Express program and its impact within the community. Fresh Express did not come away with a win, but it was a great opportunity to get the word out on the 600 annual stops with sales of over $50K as well as learn about other innovative programs within the community.

Continuing our valley-wide outreach, on March 26 the Junior League had a table at Tempe’s Soul Stroll at Kiwanis Park. This event was a 5K and health fair for families. We sold produce and distributed educational materials, including last year’s provisional project, our Fresh Express cookbook. A wonderful time was had by all!

Soul Stroll for Healthy Living this Saturday!

soul stroll logo.jpgCome join one of our Community Partners, Fresh Express, at the Soul Stroll for Healthy Living this Saturday, March 26! This free family affair will last from 8 am – 1 pm at Kiwanis Park in Tempe. Soul Stroll is designed to increase awareness about the importance of good nutrition and physical activities.

Events will include a 1k & 5k walk, onsite health screenings, DJ, bounce houses, Easter egg roll, face painting, massage treatments, and more. You can find out more about the event here!

Be sure to stop by the Fresh Express bus; our committee is hosting a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” themed event. We will have recipe booklets called “Healthy Food for the Active Soul” containing recipes for post work-out smoothies, snacks, and other healthy eating tips. Feel free to shop the bus while you are there, as well – the prices and produce are both excellent! Enjoy a fun, healthy day out with your family in our beautiful AZ spring weather.


Fresh Express In the News

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AZ Central recently featured the Junior League of Phoenix‘s very own Community Impact project, Fresh Express by Discovery Triangle, highlighting the importance of bringing fresh produce to the food deserts of Phoenix and surrounding areas. Although Fresh Express is not solving the problem completely, it’s a step in the right direction of building a healthy Arizona. For the full article, click here.



Fresh Express Keeping Busy this Holiday Season!

fresh express logoThe Fresh Express Committee has had a busy month. We participated in Touch-A-Truck, handing out gift bags that included nutrition information, a jump rope and information on the League. We also helped more than 300 children create “Produce Rainbows” to be sure they remember to eat every color of the rainbow every day. Not only did the kids have fun, but Fresh Express also sold over $400 in produce.


The committee also participated in the meet me downtown program, which is a weekly 5k that seeks to build community through fitness. The event showcases fitness opportunities in downtown Phoenix and has the added benefit of discounts at local businesses for participants. Fresh Express was on hand to sell produce and Junior League volunteers handed out nutrition information to more than 500 participants.

Fresh Express: Educating the community on healthy habits at Touch-A-Truck

Fresh Express 5It’s one thing to practice healthy habits, but it’s another to be able to educate the community on what healthy means. The Junior League of Phoenix Fresh Express committee is able to experience this liberating feeling on a routine basis. The latest of their education tour was at the annual Touch-A-Truck event held at Paradise Valley Mall on Nov. 7.

Throughout the day families made fresh produce purchases while the children stopped by the Fresh Express education table. Children’s activities included crafting a colorful stamped-clad rainbow made with fruits and vegetables. Mushrooms, pepper, grapes, apple, cherries, and a banana are just a few of the stamps that could have been found at the table. As the children built their rainbows the Phoenix League Volunteers explained the importance of eating the “colors of the rainbow.”

TAT Fresh Express 2“Today I ate a rainbow.” Perhaps you have heard this phrase used as more and more health experts tell us we should “eat the rainbow,” and no, they don’t mean eat more candy.  Volunteers taught the children that this means that we should eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables to get all the nutrients we need for optimal health. Here is a very basic run down on each color group and how it helps our bodies:

Red: Very heart healthy and gives strength support to our joints!

Orange: A great source of Vitamin C. The orange group helps keep our eyes healthy!

Yellow: This group is good for our skin and helps our digestive system!

Green: Helps our entire body and strengthens our immune systems which mean fewer colds!

Purple: Purple/blue foods are excellent for our brains! They help us with our memory and also help keep some cancers away! (Source: todayiatearainbow.com)

TAT Fresh Expres 3“Many parts of the Valley struggle with eating healthily and access to good nutrition – and not by choice. The volunteers of the Junior League of Phoenix Fresh Express program have a great opportunity to get on the right side of this battle by educating the community to think differently about the way they eat and by providing easy access to healthy produce,” says Cassie Cooper, Fresh Express volunteer. “Being able to directly impact the community in a healthy, positive way makes me proud to be involved in this program,” continued Cooper.

The Fresh Express bus and activity station remained busy throughout the day with record sales of $400 in the short 4 hours they were in business – that’s equivalent to $100 of produce sales every hour. To place some perspective on this, one apple costs .30 cents. Amazing!

About Fresh Express: A mobile produce market bringing fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables and providing community health resources to less fortune areas of the Valley.

Learn more and view the Fresh Express schedule at www.discoverytriangle.org/fresh-express.

Fresh Express Mobile Produce Bus

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This season is off to a great start in the JLP‘s second year with the mobile produce bus, Fresh Express! Last year we did great work around volunteering with the bus while educating customers on the importance of incorporating produce in to their diets. This year the focus has increased to include wellness based presentations to community centers that the bus frequents. The presentations are a new challenge for our committee and it is a great program because not only does it help the community, but it also develops Junior League members by establishing a curriculum and presenting in front of an audience.

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Fresh Express at the Phoenix Food Day Apple Crunch in downtown Phoenix, with a focus on eating nutritious food and sourcing local produce.

We are also creating a program to incorporate nutritional information on the bus full time. Last year we faced a challenge on reaching all of Fresh Express’s customers because we were only able to offer so many hours of volunteers. This year we want to increase our impact and are focusing on educating more people in the community on the importance of a nutritional diet filled with produce. If you want to support Fresh Express by purchasing produce in the Phoenix and Tempe areas, please visit their website for an updated schedule:  http://www.discoverytriangle.org/fresh-express/

by, Michelle Moore, Fresh Express Chair

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Fresh Express Kicks Off In The Phoenix Community

fresh expressFall weather is upon us, which means the opportunity for fall fruits and vegetable varieties from Fresh Express mobile market! We encourage all of our readers to shop the bus and check out what’s in season! You can find where they are by the schedule they post daily on their Facebook page and on their website.  Your efforts have contributed towards the $50,000+ in produce sales, which is what covers the cost of their operations and helps keep the program moving forward for those in Phoenix’s Food Desert.

Fresh Express Committee with members of their assigned Provisional group work together to stuff co-branded grocery bags for the upcoming November Touch-A-Truck event.

We kicked off Junior League of Phoenix volunteer opportunities at the Phoenix Food Day Festival on Thursday, October 22. Volunteers participated in setting the city record for the synchronized apple CRUNCH at noon with Mayor Stanton along with handing out our apple-themed activity sheets.  The Junior League of Phoenix apple-themed activity sheets included nutritional information and a fun recipe. Our volunteers assisted with the bus tasks at hand and ensured the mobile market’s nutritional education literature section was always stocked. It was a great way for Fresh Express and the Junior League of Phoenix to get out at an event together to promote what our partnership means: providing a reliable source of nutritional food to our Phoenix Community.

Let’s start by talking about nutrition!

food-wood-tomatoes-largeIt’s no secret that developed countries are faced with soaring obesity rates, particularly for children but also adults. Type 2 diabetes affects more than 27 million Americans. And poor dietary habits are a critical factor in the onset of cardiac disease. None of this is the result of lack of food; it’s the result of, well, bad nutrition.

In fact, according to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, typical American diets exceed the recommended intake levels or limits in four categories: calories from solid fats and added sugars; refined grains; sodium; and saturated fat, but Americans eat less than the recommended amounts of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, dairy products, and oils.

Good nutrition has been an important focus area for Junior Leagues for decades. So much so, that AJLI’s Kids in the Kitchen program, now in its 9th year, is the core nutrition program for more than 200 Leagues.food-eggs-box-large

But what’s also fascinating is to see the ways that individual Junior Leagues have created new and innovative initiatives to address nutrition problems in their communities.

The Junior League of Phoenix takes the fresh-produce-is-best idea but puts it on a refitted bus – formerly part of the Valley Metro fleet – and sets up mobile markets offering fresh, affordable and high-quality fruits and vegetables in food deserts in the Discovery Triangle area, a 25-square-mile area encompassing large parts of downtown Phoenix and downtown Tempe.

As a founding sponsor of the Fresh Express Mobile Food Bus from the Discovery Triangle Development Corporation, JLP is responsible for a nutrition curriculum for Fresh Express customers that includes handouts on healthy eating and nutritional guidelines, recipes for utilizing fresh produce, and cooking/recipe demonstrations. The Fresh Express makes indexstops at schools as well as senior centers and community centers in the area.

*This article was originally published in connected, an official publication of The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., and has been reprinted with permission.