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Secretary’s Column: USDA, Partners Help Fill the Summer Meal Gap

This summer, USDA is highlighting partnerships to invest in the future of rural America. Our partners work with us year after year to leverage resources and grow economic opportunities. They are the key to ensuring our rural communities thrive. Follow more of our stories on Twitter at @USDA or using the hashtag #RuralPartners.

In the battle for our children’s future, one of the most powerful things we can do to protect them is to ensure they get the nutrition they need to learn and grow.

Nationwide, 16 million children live in households that have trouble putting food on the table at least a portion of the year. During the school year, USDA’s school nutrition programs help make sure millions of American children get a healthy breakfast and lunch at school.

When school lets out, USDA’s summer meals help make sure that those kids get the nutrition they need, even when school is not in session. Last year, USDA and its partners served a record 168 million summer meals to kids across the country.

Unfortunately, many kids are still missing out. That is why USDA has set a goal of serving an additional 10 million meals to kids this summer.

Admittedly, this is an aggressive goal, and we can’t do it alone. We’ll need the dedicated help of our partners across the country. With strong support from individuals, communities, local governments and advocates, we can reach more kids with nutritious meals during their time out of school.

To better support partner organizations, we have developed state-targeted technical assistance and a new Summer Meals Toolkit to make sure state agencies, partners and sponsors have the resources available to run smoothly and effectively.

Together, we can tackle childhood hunger and get the word out to identify communities to ensure kids are receiving the nutritious meals they need through the summer, and throughout the year. Help spread awareness of summer meals in your community using the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-Hungry or 1-877-8-Hambre and learn more at www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp.

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