Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:
Most kids get excited about summer vacation. But for those who depend on school lunch and breakfast for their main meals of the day, they’re not as excited about summer. Unfortunately, hunger doesn’t take a vacation. Without cafeterias as the natural gathering point, congregations and community organizations are where kids can gather and get a meal this summer.
That’s why First Lady Michelle Obama has challenged faith-based and neighborhood organizations to host 1,000 new Summer Food Service Program sites this summer. The Summer Food Service Program provides kids in low-income areas a nutritious meal or snack each day. With too many families struggling to put food on the table, the program is an important part of making sure kids get fed over the summer.
At USDA, the Let’s Move! Faith and Communities initiative is partnering with faith-based and neighborhood organizations around the country to help feed kids and promote healthy living for children and communities through the Summer Food Service Program. As trusted institutions in our communities, houses of worship and community groups are essential to ending hunger and providing access to healthy, affordable food.
Congregations throughout the nation have risen to the First Lady’s challenge by sponsoring Summer Food Service Sites. For example, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference committed to hosting 120 new Summer Food Service Sites this summer. To help them get started, USDA’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships hosted a Webinar Watch Party at USDA headquarters and joined dozens of Latino pastors across the country to learn how to start a Summer Food Service Site at their local churches. The Center hosted similar outreach efforts with the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and the African Methodist Episcopal church.
But the teamwork doesn’t stop there. Through Let’s Move Faith and Communities, USDA has also partnered with Catholic Charities in the Rio Grande Valley, where more than two dozen new Summer Food Service Sites are now providing meals for kids in one of the most impoverished counties in the U.S. In addition, Islamic Relief committed to hosting 50 new summer feeding sites and is working with Islamic community centers, mosques, and schools to feed meals this summer.
To support our partners, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has hosted dozens of webinars that reached more than 3,500 registrants with information about this important program. There are commitments from faith-based and neighborhood organizations to host more than 650 sites in their local communities and houses of worship this summer.
If you are a part of a faith-based or community-serving organization and you want to find out more about how you can help promote the Summer Food Service Program, please consider joining Let’s Move! Faith and Communities and partner with us to better serve your neighborhood’s kids this summer!
Even if your organization cannot sponsor a site, we sure could use your help in getting the word out to kids that they can get a free meal this summer by enrolling at participating sites.