Since its founding, MAZON has helped to build one of the strongest, most effective anti-hunger networks in the country. Here are just a few examples of the kind of impact MAZON is making throughout the country.
Food for People
“Funding is usually so focused on buying food, it’s much more difficult to find funding to support meaningful policy work which addresses the root causes of hunger. We found this support at MAZON.” – Anne Holcomb, Executive Director: Humboldt County Food For People
When Anne Holcomb started as executive director of Humboldt County’s Food For People food bank in 2000, she knew nearly nothing about anti-hunger advocacy. Currently, Food For People is a prime example of the positive impact that a food bank can have on a community’s mobilizing efforts to end hunger. Holcomb attributes this dramatic shift to MAZON’s advocacy-specific partnership grants and annual California advocacy conference.
Holcomb, who came from a mental health services background, saw this conference as launching point that opened her eyes to important issues surrounding federal nutrition programs and connected her to important players in the anti-hunger movement. “This was a whole new arena for me,” said Holcomb, “To see that there was a well-organized effort around anti-hunger advocacy was a big deal.”
Once Holcomb learned about the positive impact that her food bank’s advocacy efforts could have on her community, she appreciated MAZON’s advocacy-specific grants even more. “Funding is usually so focused on buying food,” said Holcomb, “It’s much more difficult to find funding to support meaningful policy work which addresses the root causes of hunger. We found this support at MAZON.”
Now, Food For People is known in California’s anti-hunger community for its innovative work with the CalFresh (California’s food stamp program). The food bank developed a month-long campaign, “Bring a Million to Humboldt,” in which the outreach staff focuses on enrolling qualified community members in CalFresh. Because the federal government funds CalFresh, Food For People hopes to increase its county’s economic activity and raise its residents’ standard of living by registering more low-income individuals in the supplemental food program. Due in large part to their stellar CalFresh programming, their county recently received $1.6 million in federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach funds.
Their innovative CalFresh outreach includes a Mobile Produce Pantry: a refrigerated truck that travels to rural areas of Humboldt County to give out free produce, offer nutrition education and register qualified individuals for CalFresh. Holcomb states, “The mobile pantry travels to ‘food deserts’: remote areas that typically do not have access to stores carrying affordable, fresh produce.” The mobile pantry supplements the monthly farmers-market-style produce giveaways that are held May through October in four locations.
CalFresh outreach is just one of the many programs that the food bank runs. Food for People also coordinates a child nutrition program, a meal delivery service for seniors and a produce-gleaning project. Yet, no matter the scope of their program, they are always looking to connect it to a broader advocacy message in some way. Mia Hubbard, Vice President of Programs at MAZON, said “Food for People is a perfect example of an innovative food bank that incorporates anti-hunger advocacy into all levels of their organization.”
“A commitment to our annual budget…is the kind of support that allows an organization like ours to sustain itself, grow and thrive.” – Debra Susie, Executive Director: Florida Impact
“Other funders may move on to different issues, but MAZON is dedicated to this for the long haul, which is the only way to truly address the problem,” said Debra Susie, Executive Director of Florida Impact. For nearly 20 years, MAZON has awarded an annual partnership grant to Florida Impact, a leading statewide non-profit dedicated to fighting hunger through aggressive outreach campaigns and public policy advocacy.
MAZON’s ongoing support has helped Florida Impact build meaningful relationships with key policy makers and, in turn, help initiate and pass significant anti-hunger legislation. One such law provides a statewide mandate for schools to offer free and reduced priced breakfasts. Susie remembers a time when one in three school districts in Florida did not provide free school breakfasts to low-income students. “If your county’s school district didn’t have the program, then you were out of luck,” said Susie.
But, after a ten-year education and lobbying effort led by Florida Impact, the Florida legislature passed a law to combat child malnutrition and now 99 percent of all Florida schools participate in the breakfast program. Florida Impact recently replicated this success, helping to pass a law mandating summer nutrition programs for low-income students in every county. Since 2003, these programs have provided nutritious meals to twice as many children.
Susie will be the first one to tell you that these victories would not have been possible without grantors like MAZON: “A commitment to our annual budget may not sound that sexy, but it’s that kind of support that allows an organization like ours to sustain itself, grow and thrive.”
MAZON is committed to providing sustainable funding to public policy advocates that work tirelessly to strengthen their states’ anti-hunger legislation. Mia Hubbard, MAZON’s Vice President of Programs, said, “Florida Impact is an example of our grantees’ incredible ability to affect change in statewide anti-hunger policy. With the help of Florida Impact and our other knowledgeable advocacy partners, we can eliminate hunger in our communities.”