Our Work

Hunger Elimination Task Force

Since 2021, RIFPC has served as facilitator of the RI Hunger Elimination Task Force (HETF), in partnership with the RI Department of the Health and the RI Department of Commerce. The HETF is a statewide network of food access, nutrition, and public health champions that work to reduce hunger and increase access to healthy, culturally-appropriate food for all RI residents. With more than 150 meeting participants annually, HETF members represent Community Based Organizations, Health Equity Zones, non-profits, emergency food providers, food justice and sovereignty advocates, state agency staff, healthcare professionals, students, and many others.

2024 Hunger Elimination Task Force Meetings

Quarter 1: Food Delivery Solutions
Tuesday, February 6, 2024, from 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (virtual)

Quarter 2: Food System Preparedness & Recovery Plan Feedback Session 
Tuesday, May 7, 2024, from 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (virtual)

Quarter 3: 2030 Food Strategy – Feedback
Tuesday, July 9, 2024, from 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (virtual)

Quarter 4: State of the State on Hunger & HETF Unveiling of 2030 Food Strategy and Food System Preparedness and
Recovery Plan
Tuesday, October 22, 2024, from 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (virtual)

2024 OBJECTIVES

  • Support cross-sector efforts to end hunger by lifting up effective community-based solutions and connecting smaller programs with information to overcome barriers to scale and remain sustainable
  • Create opportunities for HETF members to learn and connect with other community-based
    organizations, non-profits, state agency staff, and government officials regarding hunger relief
    efforts throughout the state
  • Broaden HETF membership through targeted outreach to build a strong network of actively engaged stakeholders and actors, including engaging more representatives from community-based organizations, Health Equity Zones (HEZ), and community members
  • Author and publicize at least one success story related to the work of HETF in 2024
HETF was initiated by Governor Gina Raimondo in 2017, first convening as a working group to develop recommendations and action steps to reduce the state’s food insecurity levels to below 10%, a Relish Rhody target. The group developed and presented a strong list of recommendations to the Interagency Food and Nutrition Policy Advisory Council (IFNPAC) in 2018, then communicated to a wider audience of stakeholders in 2018/2019.

COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE

HETF members are encouraged to join Communities of Practice (COP) to study and report on questions and interest areas, and make recommendations based on findings. Meetings occur bi-monthly:

COP icon - age friendly

Caring for Older Rhode Islanders (in partnership with Age-Friendly RI)

COP icon - SNAP WIC
Improving SNAP + WIC Utilization
COP - local food supplemental system
Getting More Local Food Into the Supplemental Food System
COP icon - students
Food Access + Insecurity Among Students
Food insecurity in Rhode Island continues to be a front burner public health issue due to the rippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; including inflation, rising gasoline prices and the impending rise in utility costs. Rhode Island families continue to struggle to provide basic needs to their loved ones. The Hunger Elimination Task (HETF), originally created as a part of Rhode Island’s Relish Rhody Food Strategy in 2017, will continue to shine a spotlight on the issue of food insecurity. HETF continues to bring a diverse mix of leaders across public, private and non-profit sectors together in order to tackle this issue. HETF continues as a forum for sharing best practices, aligning and leveraging those best practices, innovating solutions, recommending policy priorities/solutions and strategizing as a state, in light of these rippling effects.”
Randi Belhumeur, MS RD
Health Program Administrator, Rhode Island Department of Health

HETF Administrator

MEETING RECORDS

The first Hunger Elimination Task Force (HETF) Meeting of 2023 was attended by over 62 participants. Randi Belhumeur from the RI Dept. of Health (RIDOH) welcomed everyone and provided an update on RIDOH’s application to the CDC’s State Physical Activity and Nutrition (SPAN) Cooperative Agreement. Our state’s Director of Food Strategy, Juli Stelmaszyk shared that our statewide food strategy, Relish Rhody, will be updated this year and invited everyone to participate in the process. A panel discussion followed, and focused on accessible solutions to solving last mile food delivery for transit challenged Rhode Islanders. Featured speakers included: Cartwheel RI, Family Service of RI’s Be Safe RI program, and Project Dash. All participants went into breakout rooms where they discussed how a lack of awareness about these services and stable funding is a barrier, and that ideal delivery solutions seemed to be those that formed via partnerships between organizations and those that are customized to serve the needs of specific populations (e.g. delivering prepared meals to older Rhode Islanders is different than getting groceries to a single parent who wants to pay with SNAP funds).

 

 

The second Hunger Elimination Task Force (HETF) Meeting of 2023 was attended by over 65 participants. Our state’s Director of Food Strategy, Juli Stelmaszyk shared that our statewide food strategy, Relish Rhody, will be updated this year and invited everyone to participate in the process. The Rhode Island Food Policy Council’s Senior Food Access & Nutrition Security Program Associate, Max De Faria, provided a policy landscape overview, providing background on food recovery for donation legislation.  A panel discussion followed and focused on operations to divert food from the waste stream and to donate that recovered food to organizations serving food insecure Rhode Islanders. Featured panelists included: Dana Siles from Rescuing Leftover Cuisine RI and Eva Agudelo from Hope’s Harvest at Farm Fresh RI. All participants went into breakout rooms where they discussed the limitations on current food recovery efforts and identified opportune areas for investment and education.

 

 

The third Hunger Elimination Task Force (HETF) Meeting of 2023 was attended by over 75 participants. Our state’s Director of Food Strategy, Juli Stelmaszyk shared that our statewide food strategy, Relish Rhody, is in the process of being updated and invited everyone to participate in the process. Randi Belhumuer, of the Rhode Island Department of Health, provided history and background on previous HETF priorities that informed Relish Rhody. All participants went into topical breakout rooms where they discussed what is currently working and not working to alleviate hunger in Rhode Island.

 

 

The final Hunger Elimination Task Force (HETF) meeting of 2023 focused on the state of hunger and food insecurity in Rhode Island. Conversations began with an introduction of the New England Feeding New England project by Nessa Richman, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Food Policy Council (RIFPC). Following this presentation, participants heard from a panel of food assistance experts about the state of hunger and food insecurity in Rhode Island. Participants were then invited to share their input on HETF’s 2024 priorities.