“Two is better than one.” Holding true to this timeless adage, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is teaming up with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to expand the reach of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). FNS strives to increase food security and reduce hunger by providing children and low-income people access to food, while HRSA is the primary Federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. There is an intrinsic mission overlap between FNS and HRSA given that their services target similar populations, and they have found a way to collaborate by rallying around SFSP.
SFSP fills the summer meal gap for children who may depend on school meals as their primary source of food and nutrition during the school year. Nutrition is a relevant concern for clinicians given that it is an important facet of child development. Recently, FNS hosted a webinar for the HRSA’s Bureau of Primary Health Care, which provides a variety of health services to low-income, vulnerable communities. HRSA has over 14,000 clinics nationwide with the potential to be transformed into SFSP feeding sites. If the clinics do not have the capacity to be a feeding site, they can partner with a local site to promote the program and encourage their patients to utilize SFSP resources.
The very next day, FNS hosted a webinar for HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau, which employs a home visitation model where clinicians visit low-income families to ensure their access to health care and recommend other resources. These 1-on-1 visits are a great venue to discuss SFSP and give families the “Summer Food Rocks” flyer! Summer may be a break from the classroom, but it shouldn’t be a break in access to healthy food. Summer should only be a break from school, not from the health benefits of a nutritious diet.
We’re going to continue working with HRSA and our partners across the government to connect the dots between nutrition and healthcare, to ensure the health and wellbeing of children in need.