Rural Child Hunger Summit 2021 - Lessons Learned from COVID-19: Where Do We Go from Here?

Over the past year, as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, many came to recognize the vital role that School Meals, SNAP and Pandemic-EBT played in alleviating food insecurity. At the same time, opportunities exist to improve these programs and address inequities in access, especially among communities of color and isolated rural areas. This session will feature USDA leadership, state agency and community provider perspectives on what worked, what didn’t, and how we can do better moving forward.

Did you know? No Kid Hungry’s Center for Best Practices has COVID-19 emergency response resources to help program sponsors, community partners, and advocates provide meals to children in communities affected by the coronavirus.



Monica GonzalesMonica Gonzales, Director, Federal Government Relations, Share Our Strength

Monica Gonzales is the Director of Federal Government Relations for Share Our Strength where she leads the organization’s strategy for federal advocacy pursuing policy solutions that strengthen and expand access to federal nutrition programs. She serves as the point person for Congressional offices, the Administration, and national stakeholders. She has over 15 years of experience in the public, non-profit and private sectors and has served as an advisor for senior leaders and executives, but advocating on behalf of kids is one of the best jobs she’s ever had. Currently, she serves on the boards of Hope and a Home and the Insight Center for Community and Economic Development to help low-income families and advance a mission focused on closing the racial wealth gap. She’s originally from Santa Fe Springs, CA where she attended Pepperdine University.

Stacy DeanStacy Dean, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, United States Department of Agriculture

Stacy Dean was appointed by President Biden to serve as the Deputy Under Secretary for USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services where she will work to advance the President’s agenda on increasing nutrition assistance for struggling families and individuals as well as tackling systemic racism and barriers to opportunity that have denied so many the chance to get ahead.

Prior to joining President Biden’s Team at USDA, Dean served as the Vice President for Food Assistance Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). She directed CBPP’s food assistance team, which published frequent reports on how federal nutrition programs affect families and communities and developed policies to improve them.

In addition to her work on federal nutrition programs, Dean directed CBPP efforts to integrate the delivery of health and human services programs at the state and local levels. Before joining CBPP, she worked as a budget analyst at the Office of Management and Budget.

Dean earned her B.A. and master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan.

Cheryl JohnsonCheryl Johnson, Director, Child Nutrition and Wellness, Kansas State Department of Education

Cheryl Johnson is Director of Child Nutrition and Wellness for the Kansas State Department of Education. Cheryl and her team administer the USDA Child Nutrition Programs in Kansas and provide leadership, training and monitoring for 900+ local sponsors. Cheryl has a B.S. in Foods and Nutrition and an M.S. in Dietetics and Institutional Management from Kansas State University. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Kansas Health Foundation Leadership Fellow and a Kansas State University Alumni Fellow. She has served on the School Nutrition Association’s Governance Board and State Agency Advisory Council, and the Kansas State University College of Health and Human Sciences Alumni Board and Dietetics Advisory Board.

Emily ChatelainEmily Chatelain, Executive Director, Three O’Clock Project

Emily Chatelain brings many years of experience providing operations, financial, and human resource management to schools across the United States. Emily received her B.S. from Louisiana State University and M.B.A. from the University of New Orleans. She began working in the education reform industry in 2012 as an Operations Manager at a Charter High School. Emily now has a consulting team that works with over 300 K-12 schools across the US, managing the National School Lunch Program. In 2017, Emily saw the need for a more robust afterschool meals program. She started her non-profit, Three O’clock Project, and began providing healthy meals to after school and summer programs through the CACFP and SFSP federal child nutrition programs.