Creating Summer Meals for Children

PRE-PROPOSAL

1. Media Artifact

Link to media artifact(s) giving background on the issue. Please list the title of the artifact(s) and then make the title(s) a link to the page in the MSC site where the artifact has been posted. You may include media artifacts made by other MSC members, if relevant, even if they are not authors of this proposal.

Media Artifact

2. Persona and POV statement

Persona: 

Persona name: Taylor
Age: 34
School/occupation: Single working mother of 2 kids
Location: Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
 
Quote: "I want the best for my kids, and I worry that I'm not able to provide them with enough meals once school gets out."
 
About:
  • Taylor is a hard-working single mother of a boy and girl. Recently divorced from her ex husband who does not pay childcare, she works year-round as a local bank teller and isn't always home to provide meals for her elementary school children (ages 5 and 6) during the summer. She also decided to live in Mt. Pleasant because the cost of living is low, but is finding that jobs do not pay well and is struggling to make ends meet. Mt. Pleasant is known in Michigan to have the largest population per 100,000 to be living in poverty and she worries her kids will feel the consequences.
  • She worries that she's not able to provide 3 good meals a day in the summer, and the children are missing meals without the structure of school. During the school year her family is able to take advantage of Michigan's free/discounted school lunches as her family applied and was accepted for it. 
  • Taylor wants to know her kids are able to have 3 meals a day year round, and wants to see her kids grow up to be the best they can be.
Goals:
  • Taylor wants to be there for her kids and able to provide on her own, but when she can't she wants to make sure they receive 3 meals a day. Knowing her kids are receiving 3 meals a day will help her to have some peace of mind and be able to focus on advancing through the bank earning promotions and licenses in the hopes she will be able to fully support her two kids and herself.
  • Taylor wants her kids to have enough food that they have the energy to learn during the day and play with their friends during the summer. 
  • Taylor works with food stamps to try to bring home enough food for her kids, but feels like she needs more help from the government. 

 

POV Statement: Taylor, the hard-working and busy bank teller and mother of two elementary students is struggling to provide for her kids in the summer because she cannot make ends meet on her hourly wage and paying for another meal for her kids when they are out of school.

  • User (be specific and use empathetic language, e.g., Karla, a busy and high achieving high school student…):
  • Need (identifies a need that is meaningful and includes feelings, e.g. …needs a way to feel less stress at school…):
  • Insight (incorporates your observations; often unexpected, …because there is a lot of chaos in her life and she wants to feel more calm, peace, and mindfulness in her day.):
 

 

3. Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: The best possible solution is to add a delivery driver to the food programs that already exist. These delivery drivers will help close the gap on food insecurity because they are reaching the people and families who may not have the means to get to the food banks/schools. Also with just small children at home, who cannot yet drive, meeting at the usual bus stop to pick up food would be a much more accesible way to acquire food in the summer.

SOLUTION 2: Another potential solution could be to improve opportunities to obtain cheap food in the summer. This solution targets schools in the district and one could stay open on weekdays in the summer from hours 10 am-2 pm where children are able to continue their lunch plan from the school year whether that be with a full/discounted/free lunch.

SOLUTION 3: A third potential solution could be improving the amount of food banks and distributers in an area. This could come from the government mandating requirements on a food bank per town or county and that food bank could collect from local grocery stores similar to how Food Gatherers operates. This will vastly improve the market for affordable food for families that are struggling to put meals on the table.

 

BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH PROCESS

Context

Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

The Summer Food Service Program is a program that is already offered through the summer under the UDSA. In 2018 they provided over 15 million healthy summer meals to children.

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

This helps provide meals to families and children when school is let out over the summer. Providing sponsorship to schools, which then can distribute to the children.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

Coming from Michigan, I've noticed this as a problem in the urban areas, but after doing research I've learned this affects far more than just Detroit or Flint. This problem is found in most rural areas and affects them more than the urban areas. I was aware of this program in place, and feel this add on would help reach a larger population.

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Working with Food Gatherers helped give me an insight to potential solutions to this growing problem. Using resources Food Gatherers acquires, they redistribute food to those in need of it.

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

 

Consultations

Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1: Frankie (Ann Arbor Food Gatherers): Discussed how he sees a problem in the summer when volunteering with Food Gatherers that many more people including fmailies with young children are often the ones receiving meals at the food kitchens throughout the summer. He believes this is a cause of the students lacking the extra meal that they would receive in school.

CONSULTATION 2: Victoria Davis (Ann Arbor School District): Victoria Davis informed me that Ann Arbor keeps 4 schools open in the summer to serve the families that need meals. Although the school loses money she sees it as the social benefits outweigh the costs and also helps create a few jobs for parents who will come in and serve the kids.

CONSULTATION 3: Tiffany Houston (Ypsilanti School District): Tiffany Davis runs a much larger system in Ypsilanti where it essentially runs on the same platform as Ann Arbor, however also includes 1 delivery driver which really helps reach the families who cannot afford to get there.

 

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator: Brandon

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

Meeting with Brandon to discuss where I was going at the beginning of the project really helped me to keep my mind open to many possible solutions and to focus more on the problem rather than the solutions in early stages. I felt like I had already created a strong solution, however after taking a step back and really researching into all the different issues I found my original solution would have been far too complex and not feasible for the government to implement. His guidance helped steer me to the solution I created.

Our most recent time discussing my proposal, I used Brandon's advice to continue down the path of focusing on just adding a delivery driver to help alleviate hunger in the summer months. The delivery driver came to be the best solution as it costs the least, and has far reaching potential towards families without means to get to the food banks or school districts.

Research process: 

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

Originally I started this process under the idea to somehow create more meals for free during the school year and summer for children in Michigan. After speaking with Professor Kupperman, I took a step back to look at more of the underlying issues surrounding child hunger in the summer. From this I explored the possibility that this could be caused by a number of different things including parents not paying child support, to not enough resources, to food being too expensive in given areas. Talking with Freddie at Food Gatherers, I could see this as an issue in the Ann Arbor area and beyond so I looked to talk to someone in the school districts regarding this issue. Upon getting in touch with Victoria Davis, I learned about the great program they have set up over the summer keeping 4 schools open to help serve families, and she directed me to Tiffany Houston as Ypsilanti has a much larger program in place. Tiffany's program keeps 32 schools open and includes a delivery driver for families who don't have access to reaching the schools. Both work with Food Gatherers over the summer to help with this issue. Tiffany also mentioned that although her program is large, others such as Saline and Milan do not have these programs at all. After reviewing all the notes I gathered, I found that the main problem could be there aren't enough opportunities like Ypsilanti has provided in many rural areas. Reviewing information on the Summer Feeding Service Program, where many schools are already sponsors under this USDA and federally funded agency, that reaches a large population of children who need food, adding a delivery driver to the school districts during the summer would help reach a wider population of the students who need access to food; especially in rural areas. The Summer Feeding Service Program already offers a great resource for food, and this will make it more useful for the low income families who don't have immediate access to a bus or car to reach the sites where food is distributed.

Author contributions: Cameron Beginin.

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

 

FORMAL PROPOSAL

The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS....financial situations make commuting to the school sites hard in the summer, thus not giving everyone opportunities to reach the food.

WHEREAS....3.5 meals are missed per person in each family in the Warren School District weekly.

WHEREAS....families in rural areas lack the resouces in the summer that schools provide to their children with meals. 

WHEREAS....while the program already in place helps give affordable access to healthy summer meals, there is a large portion of the population of children who are not able to take advantage of this opportunity because of a lack of transportation.

WHEREAS....parents often work in the summer, if it is a single parent or both, they often cannot come home to bring the children food during the day, or drive them to the site that distributes food.

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....

1. Establish a delivery service through Summer Feeding Service Program...

  • The delivery service associated with schools will follow already created bus routes, so that the entire school population will have the opportunity to reach food.
  • This eliminates the problem of lack of transportation options for the families as some cannot cars or there isn't a nearby bus route. It also solves the problem of if parents work and the children are left at home for the day, they will have the access to food through this bussing system.

2. Using a car and a single employee, who will be paid for gas + a wage (decided on by school districts) for example a wage of $10/hour + (60 days of driving (12 week summer) x the national average school bus route of 74 miles/day while driving a compact car such as a ford focus (30 mpg) the total would be 2.47 gal x Michigan average gas price ($1.61) x 60 = $238.60 in gas money) and $10 x 4 x 60 = $2400 for wages for a single driver with a 4 hour drive schedule. The total would be $2638.60 per driver.

  • However, to cover a greater amount of space faster, there should be a survey sent to every family in the school district to see who would like to join this summer feeding program. This will help cut down on unnecessary stops on the route, and give the driver a clear focus on which bus stops to make and how many people to expect. It will also eliminate making excess food for families who do not need to take it, and give more food to the families who need it.

3. In more rural areas, where the children aren't as close to their schools, and there are less schools in general; consider adding additional drivers. In urban/suburban areas, only one driver is necessary because the children are relatively close to their given schools and the bus routes would not take a long time to complete for a single driver. However, in rural areas the spread of students is much greater, and in these cases there may be a need more multiple drivers to cover the distance. This will ensure all children are receiving meals, and that drivers are able to complete all the routes in an efficient amount of time so that children receive their meals on time.

(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)

Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. This new program could be costly considering the gas everyday, miles accumulated on a car, and wages.

2. For some areas this is not necessary at all, whereas other areas require more attention than a single or a couple drivers.

3. The school districts would lose money on this summer feeding program (as evidence from Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor).

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

There would be operating expenses for the gas and wage of the driver(s) which would come from a reallocation of taxes towards the schools in the area to be able to hire the drivers for the summer. There will also be expenses for additional food compared to the current system, pending that more families enroll in a program with this structure. This reallocation would come from a new tax established towards the newly founded marijuana industry, as it is using a 10% excise tax currently on top of the usual 6% sales tax, and could help fund numerous sectors. 

References:

There is a similar situation occurring from the Covid-19 virus. It is referenced here.

Summer Feeding Service Program has a great webpage that includes this, on how to participate.

These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.




 

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Total votes: 7

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