The summer months are here. Families are making plans for vacations and leisure time spent at the local pool or beach. But for many parents and caregivers, summer is also a time of anxiety as they wonder if they’ll be able to put enough food on the table without school lunch and breakfast to supplement mealtimes. That’s why USDA’s summer meals programs, which provide free meals to disadvantaged kids while school is out, is so important.
Today kicks off Summer Food Service Program Week, an opportunity to spread awareness about the prevalence of child hunger. This summer, we have set a goal of feeding 5 million more meals to eligible kids across the country through our partnerships with state agencies and local organizations. I’m proud to say that last year our partners served 161 million summer meals, feeding approximately 3.5 million children on a typical summer day.
Unfortunately, millions more children face a higher risk for hunger in the United States during the summer, which is why we’re redoubling efforts to reach more children at risk for hunger. We’ve issued a national call to action for schools, community and faith-based organizations across the country to increase the number of SFSP sponsors and feeding sites to ensure that no child goes hungry when school is out. We’re also working more closely with communities to help families locate sites where summer meals are served and we are providing intensive technical assistance to expand the program in five targeted states – Arkansas, California, Colorado, Rhode Island and Virginia.
Research shows a strong indication that poor nutrition during the summer months can set kids up for academic failure once school starts. The Summer Food Service Program is one way we’re working to make sure that this nation’s most precious resources have access to good nutrition all year round.
For more information on the Summer Food Service Program and to locate a site near you, please visit USDA’s Summer Food Service Program website. You can also call 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (for Spanish speakers) and a live operator will tell you where the closest sites serving free, nutritious summer meals are located. To locate sites using an online map visit WhyHunger.org.