By Under Secretary Kevin Concannon, Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services
It is so important to ensure children get enough to eat, especially during summer months when school is out and access to school meals is unavailable. And that’s why bridging the summer food gap is a high priority at USDA.
I had the pleasure of kicking off a Summer Food Service Program in Prichard, Alabama last week and saw children benefiting from the healthy meals served in a nurturing environment. John and Delores Eads run a fantastic program at the Light of the Village, the feeding site sponsored by the Bay Area Food Bank. I’m grateful for their efforts, as well as those of the Mayor of Prichard and the Mobile community, who have worked tirelessly to make sure children in need receive nutritious meals when school is out. I have no doubt that children participating in the feeding program at the Light of the Village will start the new school year healthy, fit, and ready to learn.
The Summer Food Service Program was created to enable children in low-income areas to continue to receive nutritious meals during long vacation breaks and summer months. Although the program has operated for more than 40 years, there still aren’t enough sponsors and feeding sites in many disadvantaged communities. For instance, in Alabama last year, of all the school children who received free and reduced price meals, just 7.9 percent participated in the Summer Food Service Program. And it’s the same story played out across the country. Clearly, more sites and more sponsors are needed to meet the nutritional needs of children during summer months.
Seeing all those children thriving at the Light of the Village was truly heartwarming. I left Alabama with a greater appreciation of what we do and why, and look forward to visiting again.