TN Department of Human Services Creates Ad Hoc Advisory Council Focused on Transforming Tennessee's Food Programs

Friday, February 26, 2016 | 05:30pm

Advisory Council builds on DHS’ momentum to address child hunger in Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) announced the creation of a public private partnership ad hoc advisory council focused on transforming Tennessee’s food programs and raising awareness about child hunger in Tennessee.

In Tennessee, one in four children faces hunger daily. Community partners and sponsors play an integral role in reaching children where they are. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally funded program intended to ensure that children who benefit from free and reduced price meals during the school year, have access to nutritious meals during the summer months. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federally funded program that provides reimbursement for eligible meals that are served to participants who meet age and income requirements. CACFP provides aid to child and adult care institutions and family or group day care homes for the provision of nutritious foods that contribute to the wellness, healthy growth, and development of young children, and the health and wellness of older adults and chronically impaired disabled persons.

Recently, DHS announced that for the first time in the partnership between TDHS and USDA FNS, the agencies are collaborating on a new model designed to improve overall program impact and program integrity. The first planning session for 2016 was held on February 18, 2016. As a part of this effort, DHS is forming the council made up of community partners to provide feedback and innovative suggestions on opportunities for improvement and how to have greater impact. This feedback will also be utilized to inform the improvement plan the department is currently working on with the USDA FNS.

“DHS understands and appreciates the importance of strong public private partnerships and our collective efforts to serve children and families,” said Dr. Raquel Hatter, DHS Commissioner. “We want to thank our partners for joining forces with us in this manner. We are committed to transparency, accountability and program integrity driven by a focus on ensuring that no Tennessee Child Goes Hungry. This is what we do.”

“I am pleased to have this opportunity to join Commissioner Hatter in her No Hungry Tennessee Child initiative,” said Barbara Kelly, Executive Director, of the Knoxville Knox County Community Action Committee. “We need to encourage as many partners as possible to step forward and become sponsors of the child nutrition programs so that the number of children served can be increased. I also support TDHS’ commitment to focus on program impact and to seek innovations that will increase program impact. Our Tennessee families deserve our best when it comes to insuring that our children have year round access to food and nutrition.”

“We are committed to increasing our impact and using our knowledge to solve hunger. In Tennessee, 600,000 children may not have enough food to eat while school is out for summer and not enough of those children have access to a summer meals program,” said Heidi Davis, Summer Feeding Service Coordinator, of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee. “Working closer with our state agencies and other sponsors that feed children during the summer to ensure No Tennessee Child Goes Hungry is strategic and will allow us to be more effective as we work in our local communities.”

“We are excited to join with Commissioner Hatter, the DHS team, and food advocates in strengthening the existing food program while expanding the opportunities for children in Davidson County as well as the rest of the state of TN to have access to nutritional meals during the summer time and when school is out. We share a common belief and goal that in a country of such great wealth, no child should have to go hungry,” Dr. Cynthia Croom, Metropolitan Action Commission.

Join the call to action for Tennesseans to fight hunger in their local communities by donating, volunteering, raising awareness or participate in other activities that support the end of hunger. To add your strength to the effort to end hunger, send an email to 

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CONTACT: Devin Stone
OFFICE:  615-313-5786