Public-Private Partnership to Address Hunger 

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View of a farm on The Food Project property in Boston, Mass.

State legislators are in a unique position to tackle hunger and increase access to healthy food. Legislators simultaneously wear the hats of policymaker, hunger champion and community leader. As policymakers, legislators can direct and provide incentives for state agencies to implement new programs, catalyze coordination among agencies, give start-up or expansion funding to promising initiatives, or establish an award to recognize an organization fighting hunger in their communities. As hunger champions, they can form legislative hunger caucuses, create days for hunger awareness and elevate the visibility of hunger through their websites and social media. As community leaders, they can bring together the public, nonprofit, corporate and foundation sectors to inspire meaningful change and imagine innovative solutions for low-income communities. In short, state policymakers have the chance to serve as leaders in the battle to end hunger in the United States, starting with their communities and their states. 

Within this publication are examples of innovative programs that involve partnerships among multiple organizations and state-level support. This publication has categorized programs broadly by their purpose and the federal nutrition programs they seek to leverage and promote. The thematic areas are:

I. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Partnerships, including programs that provide outreach, offer application assistance and increase access to food retailers that accept SNAP;

II. Child Nutrition Partnerships, including programs that increase access and improve the quality of in-school and out-of-school nutrition programs for children;

III. Food Distribution Partnerships, including programs that improve the quality of food available at food banks and pantries, increase client choice, and provide clients with the knowledge to choose healthier and more cost-effective foods;

IV. Healthy Food Access Partnerships, including programs that improve access to healthy food in urban and rural low-income communities, increase access to locally grown produce for low-income consumers and help improve the diets of low-income seniors.

Each program profile includes information about the problem(s) the program seeks to address, how the program works and who benefits, the names of major partners and funding sources, relevant legislation or legislator involvement and program results.

The guide was researched and published by the NCSL Foundation Hunger Partnership. The author consulted several national organizations to identify states with promising programs and campaigns and, in turn, relied on state-level administrators and non-profit staff to identify innovative programs. Leadership from state and local organizations provided the information in the program profiles that follow. Although the author identified numerous innovative partnerships across the country, featured programs were selected using the following criteria:

  • Involves both the private and public sectors, including state-level support, whether through provision of funding, technical assistance or other resources;
  • Demonstrates innovation in program delivery;
  • Provides evidence of success and promise of self-sustainability;
  • Involves a diverse array of organizations, including supermarkets, restaurants, farmers, child care providers, schools, religious institutions, emergency food providers, health providers, private citizens, and additional community-based organizations;
  • Benefits a wide variety of consumers, including children, youth, seniors, people with disabilities, and racially/ethnically diverse populations;
  • Reflects diversity in rural and urban locales and various regions of the United States.

The promising practices within this guide illustrate not only what is being done across the country, but how legislators can play a vital part in leveraging resources and expertise to address the challenge of hunger in America.

You can read the final report of "Bringing Legislators to the Table."

"Bringing Legislators to the Table" was written by Marie Lawrence, Emerson National Hunger Fellow,with help from members of the NCSL Foundation Hunger Partnership and experts nationwide.


Young woman, old womanConnecting Ohio's Seniors with SNAP: The District 5 Area Agency on Aging in Ohio partnered with the Department of Job and Family Services and five rural grocers to offer cooking demonstrations and SNAP/food stamp outreach and application assistance to seniors. In the past, it has been difficult to connect older residents of Richland County with public benefits programs because they are geographically and socially isolated. By providing services where seniors shop and capitalizing on the personal relationships between seniors and their grocers, AAA has helped more than 500 seniors pre-screen for SNAP benefits at grocery stores. 


School busIncreasing Participation in Summer Meals in Washington: Auburn School District in Washington partnered with the state Department of Education and a number of public and private nonprofit organizations to deliver summer meals to low-income children across the district. Over half of Auburn's students are eligible for free and reduced-price meals during the school year, but many children could not travel to traditional summer meals sites. In addition, administrative barriers prevented many otherwise suitable summer meals sites from participating in the program.


Rural sceneConnecting Growers with Food Banks in North Dakota: The state Department of Agriculture partnered with Great Plains Food Bank to create the Hunger-Free North Dakota Gardens Project, where gardeners and growers are encouraged to "plant an extra row" for food banks and pantries statewide.  The department committed just enough funding to hire one staff person and cover publicity costs, and, in 2010, 41 food pantries across North Dakota reported receiving 361,500 pounds of donated produce.