Kids’ Meals’ Beth Braniff Harp Leans into Bold Goals for 2022: ‘Imagine the Difference We Can Make’
WHAT IS THE secret to running a successful business in times such as these? The secret is flexibility and a positive attitude, and as a leader modeling both of those attributes. A business has to accept the challenge at hand, and enlist the support and guidance of their leadership and staff, while creating a strategic plan to pivot to meet immediate needs. For Kids’ Meals, during the pandemic, the need for our services for food-secure children and their families tripled almost overnight. The challenge before us looked like climbing Mount Everest! We made a decision as an organization not to turn anyone away who applied for services. This meant adapting our model to be “Covid safe,” mobilizing more volunteers to assist when there was not enough staff, strengthening relationships with our social service partners, and literally changing all aspects of food delivery for food-insecure families.
What is unique about your approach to your mission? Kids’ Meals’ mission is to end childhood hunger by delivering free, healthy meals directly to the doorsteps of Houston’s hungriest preschool-aged children and through collaboration provide their families with resources to help end the cycle of poverty. We are unique because we are the nation’s first and only program of our kind. We are a first responder to children aged 5 and under facing debilitating hunger due to extreme poverty. Every weekday, year-round, volunteers prepare thousands of healthy lunches consisting of a sandwich, nutritious snack, fruit item and 100 percent juice, milk or water. We currently serve 44 zip codes in Harris County, impacting the lives of those children most in need.
What is special about your team? Kids’ Meals is more than a nonprofit organization — we are a family. A family of passionate staff and Board Members who are committed to changing the lives of impoverished children to give them a better future. Each year, more than 20,000 volunteers dedicate 50,000 plus hours to preparing meals for children in need.
Who inspires you as you seek to reach greater heights of success? Our volunteers, Board Members and Advisory Board members who serve selflessly with such passion and dedicate countless hours to make a difference in the lives of children who, by no fault of their own, are born into poverty.
What have you learned about your business and your community that might inspire others? I have learned that Houstonians are some of the most generous people in our country with their time and donations to help those less fortunate in our city. If you can provide a meaningful opportunity for people to get involved in their community, then Houstonians will show up, band together and make a difference for those less fortunate.
What’s new for 2022 that you are excited about? Kids’ Meals’ goal is to serve 1.6 million meals in 2022, and we can do it with the continued support of Houstonians! Every $2 donated feeds a hungry child. We need the help because, on any given day in Harris County, there are 50,000 children living food-insecure. Imagine the difference we can make if we all do a little part for children suffering from hunger in our city!