Childhood Food Solutions tackles local food insecurity in innovative ways

Years ago when Tony Fairhead moved to America from Britain, he had no idea that some children in the U.S. struggled to get enough food.

He'd been wealthy most of his life as a former project manager in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry and was mostly unaware of the tribulations of children growing up in poverty. That changed after he took an early retirement and had to return to work when his own financial situation took a downturn. Fairhead, who's now lived in Cincinnati for 19 years, once worked as a customer service representative where the plight of a young single mother caught his attention.

"She has a child and an unreliable car, and she took one too many sick days and came into work late one too many times and was terminated. But she was much better at the work than I was. That's when I started to realize I'd had a very sheltered life. Once I got things under control in my life I started working with homeless children. Then I realized there are a number of children in Cincinnati who have food insecurity.

That's when Fairhead, along with a couple of other friends, started Childhood Food Solutions. The nonprofit, founded in 2007, helps to alleviate food insecurity for children. Food insecurity is different from hunger, Fairhead explained.  Food insecurity is related to food inconsistency. Many children, especially those on public assistance, may be well fed at the beginning of the month, but food becomes scare by the end.

"There is really very little hope that money will last the whole month," Fairhead said

Children can also face food insecurity during breaks from school, during the holidays and over the summer. Childhood Food Solutions works to fill that gap "one zip code at a time" in two main ways: by getting food to children at two Cincinnati Public Schools and by going straight to select neighborhoods in the summer.

Currently, the nonprofit is able to tide over 1,000 school children in the 45225 zip code. Volunteers assemble packages and deliver food to Taylor Academy and Roll Hill Elementary schools each week. In the summer, vans go into the North Fairmount and Fay Apartments area delivering food to children who accept it.

"We go out into the street and make a lot of honking noises, and a volunteer will hop out of the van or truck with a sack in their hand. One or two children will come out then the word gets around and we can reach 30 children in one stop," Fairhead.

The organization relies on a network of a couple hundred volunteers each year. Individuals or business donate funding that allows Childhood Food Solutions to purchase mostly nonperishable, complex carbs that are portable and stick with kids such as graham crackers, peanut butter, cereal and macaroni and cheese. $7 provides one student with one month's worth of "Weekend Food Sacks," $15 provides one student with "Carry-Over" food during a school break and $30 provides one child with four weeks of summer vacation food.

To find out more or to donate, go here.

Writer: Feoshia Henderson
Source: Tony Fairhead, Executive Director of CFS

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