Today marks the 2nd annual National Summer Food Service Program Kick Off Week (June 11-15). During the school year, more than 21 million children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch through the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs. But when school is out, many low-income kids relying on these school meals, go hungry. To close that gap, USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) helps children get the nutritious meals they need during the summer months so they’re ready to learn when they return to school in the fall.
This week, we’ll be sharing SFSP information through Twitter, blogs, and a variety of National Summer Food Service Program kick-off events throughout the country. Our children’s continued ability to learn, grow up healthy, and reach their full potential will depend on what we do now to secure their future.
Although the SFSP program is completely dedicated to helping kids during the summer, when they are most vulnerable to experiencing hunger because school is out, our participation rate on this program isn’t what we’d like it to be. We are doing everything we can to get more meals to children during the summer months. We need to be sure that every child who should be receiving a summer meal gets one because no child should ever be going hungry.
Parents are encouraged to contact organizations within their community that offer activity programs, such as schools, churches, recreation centers, playgrounds, parks, camps, and many other places can serve meals in neighborhoods with high percentages of low-income families. These are safe and familiar locations where children naturally congregate during the summer. By improving opportunities and leveraging partnerships, our Nation’s children gain not only better nutrition but better health.
Getting your local radio station to run a SFSP PSA is one way you can contribute to the fight against hunger. Please download the PSAs and provide them to your local radio station to play for free. They are available in English and Spanish: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/summer/Outreach.htm#PSA
It’s important that parents know where summer sites in their neighborhoods are located so that they can also get these healthy, free meals to their children. To find the closest SFSP site near you call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-Hungry or 1-877-8-HAMBRE. It’s a free call, available in both English and Spanish, and is available from Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturdays 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time.