Reaching Kids “Where They Live” to Combat Summertime Food Insecurity


According to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, more than 45,000 children in Allegheny County are considered to be food insecure with 73,500 children eligible for free or reduced-rate school lunches or breakfasts during the academic year. The City of Pittsburgh was looking to expand its free summertime meals program and increase participation by 10 percent. How to get the word out?


Shift’s research uncovered the fact that even the hungriest of teenagers would frequently forego a visit to the more than 120 free-meal locations (what were officially referred to as “feeding sites”) fearing the stigma and shame of public recognition. Our solution was to brand the initiative “GrubUp,” developing a visual identify, social media platform, website, and public information campaign to not only inform but to persuade those in need that this vital program is a shame-free and normal activity.


GrubUp is off to a great start. The energetic and fun-filled public launch included Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane, and Allegheny County Health Department Director Karen Hacker (clad in green GrubUp aprons), garnered extensive and positive media coverage. We won’t have an official count until the end of the summer, but anecdotal evidence from around the City is that the attendance numbers look promising. The daily goal is to serve more than 7,640 of our youngest, most vulnerable citizens.