Delaware joins effort to reduce childhood hunger

 First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney, seen here next to her husband Gov. John Carney on Election Night last November, will lead Delaware's team working to reduce childhood hunger. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney, seen here next to her husband Gov. John Carney on Election Night last November, will lead Delaware's team working to reduce childhood hunger. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Delaware’s First Lady will lead the effort to take a closer look at ways to reduce childhood hunger.

The iniative by the National Governors Association Center is right on time as the school year comes to a close.

“The quality of our schools and the growth of our economy, as well as public health, depend on our success in that effort,” said Tracey Quillen Carney who will lead a Delaware team in its efforts.

On Tuesday, it was announced that participating states will work to reduce childhood hunger by expanding access to school breakfast, supporting summer meal programs, collaborating with organizations with similar goals as well as creating an efficient plan with fewer restrictions for free meals.

This week, Delaware officials are attending Learning Labs on State Strategies to address the hunger problem among children. Officials are expected to study states like Virginia where officials managed to provide regular access to healthy meals to school-age children.

“[Virginia First Lady] Dorothy McAuliffe has provided inspirational leadership on the issue of childhood hunger, and Share Our Strength and the National Governors Association (NGA) have been tremendous partners in that effort,” Carney said.

The Delaware team includes Aimee Beam from the Department of Education; Ray Fitzgerald, Director of the Division of Social Services; Charlotte McGarry, Programs Director for the Food Bank of Delaware; and Jon Sheehan, Education Policy Advisor.

In Delaware, the Summer Food Service Program provides low-income meals to children 18 years old and younger when school is not in session. Through that program, more than 720,000 meals including snacks were served to 350 locations statewide last summer. Officials said Delaware has made significant progress in getting free meals to children during summer months.

“Neither teachers nor students can be successful when hunger permeates our classrooms and homes,” said Governor Carney. “Reducing childhood hunger is a moral, educational, and economic imperative,” Gov. Carney said.

Carney has challenged the group to develop and form partnerships between districts and charter schools as well as public-private organizations to support initiatives focused on reducing childhood hunger. 

“We know that good nutrition is needed in order for kids to learn, play and grow. 17.3 percent of Delaware children are considered food insecure so there is still much we can do as a state. We are thrilled that Delaware has this opportunity to learn best practices from other states so that we can best serve our most vulnerable children,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe.

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