What Does an Anti-Hunger Advocate Do?

Justin Rumenapp, Director
Michigan Hunger Solutions


I have been working to end hunger in Michigan since 2011, and one of the most frequent questions I still get from various members of the community is, “what is an anti-hunger advocate?” Many anti-hunger advocates wear many hats, so the job defies easy definition. The easiest analogy is that of a consultant.


Michigan Hunger Solutions is heavily focused on child nutrition initiatives so much of my work is in expanding access to summer, afterschool and breakfast in the classroom meals. Most of these meals have Federal funding sources that provide reimbursement, and MHS also works with programs to secure additional operating funds. The first step in implementing a new meal program is discussing the needs of children with school officials and expanded learning opportunity program directors. Even this work defies simple explanation as an urban Detroit program might look very different from a rural program in Alpena.


On any given day, I might be working with a food service director to talk about serving cost-effective breakfasts, giving a presentation to local service groups about the need in their city or talking to elected officials about the importance of keeping children’s meals funded.


The reasons why a program might want to offer meals to their young participants are myriad, though sometimes various school or program administrators need some convincing that the meals are right for their area. The need is reality. Roughly 50% of children in Michigan are certified for a free or reduced price school lunch, the most common metric of child hunger, meaning that half of the students you see at the bus stop in the morning are not getting enough nutritious food. The benefits of offering meals to children, besides being the right thing to do, include increased attendance at school, higher grades (you can’t learn if you’re hungry!) and fewer hunger related illnesses (stomachache, headache, etc.)


Are career or volunteer opportunities in anti-hunger right for you? If you have a commitment to helping your most in-need neighbors and are a tenacious, out of the box thinker, the answer might be yes. Contact your local United Way for volunteer opportunities in your community.


If you or a loved one is struggling with hunger, please dial 211 for the nearest emergency food center.


If you operate a children’s program in Michigan and would like more information on how meals for children can help, please contact me at jrumenapp@uwmich.org.

Michigan Hunger Solutions is working on ending food insecurity among Michigan’s most vulnerable population. MHS can be found on Twitter (@MIHngerSolutions) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MichiganHungerSolutions)