This is a guest blog post by Romina Da Costa, PhD candidate in Education at the University of Maryland. Rosina recently visited two Coffee Coverstion sessions. For more information on CHEER's Coffee Conversation program, please visit: http://www.communitycheer.org/coffee-conversations.
The two sessions I observed were part of CHEER’s relatively new partnership with Montgomery County to promote food security. Currently, Montgomery County is drafting its first comprehensive food security plan, and the county reached out to CHEER in order to help draft this plan alongside the local community, assessing community needs and the effectiveness of programs that are already in place. The goal is to revise the plan draft and have it ready before the end of the year. This plan is to take the form of a “living document” that can be revisited and revised as new data and information are collected over the course of the next five years.
The role of CHEER at this stage of the plan is to help the county to collect data and hear the voices of the community through “listening sessions,” in which community participants are able to express their views and fill out surveys and questionnaires to help the local government understand their needs and their experiences with food security. CHEER’s Director for Long Branch Programs Vanesa Pinto’s ongoing work with parent groups at several local elementary schools allowed her to easily and seamlessly integrate t