Help End Childhood Hunger on Red Nose Day
Today, on Red Nose Day, we are shining a light on the annual campaign to end child hunger. In the US alone, there are approximately 15.5 million impoverished children. Studies show that suffering from food insecurity can have lifelong effects on children, contributing to physical and mental health problems and lower academic performance.
To address this issue, nonprofits are discovering that technology is a powerful resource to use on behalf of the populations they serve. Learn how one campaign – No Kid Hungry – is using data and technology to help end childhood hunger:
What is the mission of No Kid Hungry?
No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger through effective programs that provide kids with the food they need. It is a campaign of Share Our Strength, an organization working to end hunger and poverty.
What are some of your unique challenges? What gaps do you face in achieving your mission?
We know that childhood hunger in the US is a solvable problem. While one in six children lives with hunger in America, we’ve helped connect kids with more than 1 billion meals since the campaign launched in 2010. We face unique obstacles and challenges in every phase of our work but especially in making people aware that childhood hunger is an issue in their community and helping schools make breakfast part of the regular day, just like lunch, so more students can get a healthy morning meal. We also work with partners, grantees, state agencies and governments, school districts, and individuals to put their strengths to the best use in the fight to end childhood hunger.
How does technology help you innovate, scale, and increase your impact?
No Kid Hungry consolidates, normalizes, and visualizes data from the federal child nutrition programs to understand participation levels in school breakfast, school lunch, afterschool meals, and summer meals around the country. The data informs our strategic investments and helps us target school districts and communities where children do not have access to the food they need to grow and thrive. To date, we have received data and key program metrics from 40 states, working towards our goal of establishing data-sharing relationships in all 50 states.
Reporting schedules and data formats vary widely across states due to the variety of state agencies and technology platforms used to collect and aggregate local child nutrition data. Our data cleaning and visualization work takes weeks to months to perform, and must be done several times a year as new data is received. Using AWS’s ability to automate complex tasks and scale infrastructure on demand, our ambition is to have the same work done within seconds. We are using Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) to index and store over 2 million records from our current dataset, without which we would need to make significant investments in less agile, more static database infrastructure. In the near future, we anticipate using AWS infrastructure to perform the data cleaning and data visualizations at the beginning and end of our data cycles.
What can someone do to get involved?
Through collaborations like our one with Amazon, we’re able to share our stories and mission with supporters around the country, raising the awareness and critical funds needed to end childhood hunger. A key example is through our text to find a summer meal site initiative, which connects families to sites that serve free meals to kids when school is out for the summer. All someone has to do is text ‘FOOD’ or ‘COMIDA’ to 877-877.