Rural Child Hunger Summit 2021: Fresh Ideas for Sustainable Programming in Rural Communities

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Innovation rarely goes according to plan, and sometimes you can learn more from a surprising outcome than one that’s expected. In this session, attendees will hear from panelists working in South Dakota, Colorado, and Virginia who have taken a practical approach to innovation that pairs fresh ideas and community inclusivity with the dollars-and-sense realities of keeping programming afloat.

Did you know? In 2019, Share Our Strength launched a national survey aimed at understanding how stakeholders are testing and implementing new strategies for addressing child hunger. Almost 200 food banks, school districts, local governments, and private companies responded. Find out what we learned in the Hunger Innovation Report.

Brandon Valley Wellness Journal – Spilling the Beans about Living Well.


Chelsea MacCormackChelsea MacCormack, Program Associate, Share Our Strength

Raised in a small rural town in southwestern Virginia, Chelsea brings her experiences with rural communities to her work with Share Our Strength and the No Kid Hungry campaign. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Applied Economics from Virginia Tech. Chelsea is also a Certified Interpretative Guide with the National Association for Interpretation and an Environmental Leadership Program Senior Fellow.

Gay AndersonGay Anderson, Child Nutrition Supervisor, Sioux Falls Public Schools

Gay Anderson is the Child Nutrition Supervisor for the Sioux Falls School District in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Anderson has been in school nutrition for 18 years and has found her passion in feeding the future one school meal at a time.

Anderson served as the President of the National School Nutrition Association in school year 2018-2019 and then again in 2019-2020. Helping others is very important to her, and with that she is involved in a pilot project with Share Our Strength in assisting ten other districts within the state of South Dakota.

Andrea KruseAndrea Kruse, Child Nutrition Director, Brandon Valley School District

Andrea Kruse is the Child Nutrition Director for the Brandon Valley School District in Brandon, South Dakota. Kruse previously worked as the Registered Dietitian for the Brandon Valley School District before taking over her current role where she also works with ten other districts in South Dakota to improve their child nutrition programs.

Kruse graduated with a master’s in nutritional science from South Dakota State University in 2018 and has been working as a Registered Dietitian in various setting since then. Although she has only been in child nutrition a short time, she has quickly realized her passion for feeding students nutritious and delicious meals every day.

Jodi WalkerJodi Walker, Founder and Executive Director, Kids At Their Best

Jodi has never been afraid to take on controversial issues and has frequently used unorthodox approaches to bridge the cultural, economic and generational challenges of her Eastern Plains community. Kids At Their Best, the agency that she founded, exemplifies the strength of her commitment to all children and all families. She has brought together immigrants from Mexico and South America, refugees from Africa and local children whose families have lived on the Eastern Plains for generations. Jodi’s understanding of the complex interplay of major political, financial and distribution systems has allowed her to develop sustainable programs to serve not only local children but to inspire others. Jodi overcame a traumatic brain injury to pursue her soul work on behalf of children and families. She and her husband live on their family farm. They have six children, one granddaughter and a 140-pound Great Pyrenees, grand puppy. When she is not working, she loves exploring the Colorado mountains, reading and sewing.

Elyse KovalskyElyse Kovalsky, Senior Manager for Program Innovation, Share Our Strength

Elyse Kovalsky is Senior Manager for Program Innovation at Share Our Strength. As a sociologist focused on the drivers of inequality, Elyse has extensive experience designing and leading investigations at the intersection of health, housing, and economic security. Using the principles of human-centered design and qualitative research methodologies, she works closely with families and partner organizations to identify and test innovative models in key programmatic areas, including WIC and other programs reaching families with young children.