A Year in Review: Continuing Progress and Growth Through the Hunger Free Communities Network
January 23, 2017
Erin Leonard, Alliance to End Hunger
As 2016 has come to a close – we’ve been reflecting on the accomplishments and growth of the Hunger Free Communities network. These accomplishments were made possible by the dedicated work that coalitions across the country are doing in their communities every day and the energy and engagement that they have brought to the HFC network this past year. The network has seen increasing engagement from these coalitions – which strengthens the network as a whole and allows for groups to learn from and inspire each other while building our collective impact.
In 2016 we added 25 new Hunger Free Community groups to our growing network from around the country including the Tri-Town Hunger Action Team, Untied Way of Passaic County, Childhood Food Solutions of Cincinnati, Feeding Texas, and Hunger Free Oklahoma. We trained 20 Hunger Free Community groups in advocacy methods and tactics for helping to end hunger at the community and national level, and we launched our quarterly webinars series with dozens of people from many different Hunger Free Communities groups participating in our first meetings.
In October we hosted the 2016 Hunger Free Communities Summit in Indianapolis, IN and it was a huge success, with over 100 people in attendance including 15 current and aspiring Hunger Free Community groups! Many of the sessions were led by Hunger Free Community leaders from across the country – giving groups the chance to engage with each other and share best practices from their communities across the nation. Keynote speakers included Congressman Andre Carson from Indiana and Jeremy Everett from Texas Hunger Initiative.
We also released a study of Hunger Free Community groups and their collective impact with Dr. Julia Carboni of Syracuse University. The report details how HFCs fit into the larger collective impact landscape and details the strategies engaged by HFCs who are maximizing this collective impact. This study has helped us identify key strengths and weaknesses in the Hunger Free Communities model and continue our work to improve it. Additionally, at the end of the year we conducted a 2016 Hunger Free Communities Assessment which helped us assess the capacities of different groups in the network, and the capacity of network as a whole. Moving into 2017 we are going to use the results of this survey to expand the types of technical assistance we offer to Hunger Free Communities groups and build closer relationships with our members.
In 2017 we have a lot to look forward to. We are already beginning to plan the 2017 Hunger Free Communities summit – which will serve as a boot camp for newly-forming Hunger Free Community groups to learn how to further formalize and sustain their HFC networks. On March 5th the Alliance will host the 2017 Hunger Free Communities Network Dinner in Washington DC. This invitation-only event will coincide with the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference in Washington, DC and is a great opportunity for HFC members from across the country to gather and greet while getting updates from the Alliance to End Hunger. This year we also look forward to putting together a Hunger Free Communities toolkit which can serve as resource for newly forming HFC groups from around the country.
We are excited to keep you in the loop about news from the Hunger Free Communities network. We hope that 2017 can be even better then 2016 and we hope that we can continue to be a resource to the HFC network!