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Kicking Off National Summer Food Service Program Week: Closing the Summer Meal Gap

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.

A teen attending the summer food service site at the Boys and Girls Club of Ada County in Garden City, Idaho enjoys a healthy snack.

A teen attending the summer food service site at the Boys and Girls Club of Ada County in Garden City, Idaho enjoys a healthy snack.

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.

5 Responses to “Kicking Off National Summer Food Service Program Week: Closing the Summer Meal Gap”

  1. Cindy says:

    I heard from a cafeteria worker in Delaware that the children are throwing out those healthy foods that are put on their plates while at school.

  2. linda illingworth, rd says:

    Kids may initially turn up their noses, but when their peers eat veggies and fruit things change. Also, it takes time to retrain a palate that has only had processed foods that require no chewing. The flavors are different, not as bland and there is texture. These foods are the only antidote to diabesity. Doctors cannot give a pill for a disease caused by lifestyle. It’s soooo worth the effort to encourage kids to avoid insulin injections, amputations, and early death from diabetes and obesity.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I absolutley agree with Linda!

  4. Rev. Dr james D garrison Jr says:

    We are a local 501c3 non-profit youth & young adult at risk corporation that works deligently year round to make a difference within our greater community,It is our intent to assist with feeding children who otherwise will go hungry by sponsoring several sites for the summer food program here in phoenix, Az. Our problem is not that we won’t give of our time and energies but, on the contrary we will give our all to ensure that no child within our reach will go hungry during the time that school is out but, we are a small local non-profit agency that does not have the finances available to shoulder the start up expenses for our program and we feel feel that only the large non-profit agencies are allowed to participate ina worthwhile program that in its intent, should be available to every agency that can meet the fns requirements. Why are there no start up funds available in Arizona to assist small non-profits who want to be part of a great program

  5. Rev. Dr james D garrison Jr says:

    We are the one step two step operation hope of Phoenix, Az and we have made application and are awaiting the ade final decision on that application
    WE are looking forward to becoming a multi-site sponsor in areas that have more than 24,000 children who are eligible to participate in this wonderful program.

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