Before kids sit down to eat a nutritious summer food service meal, adults have to do important work behind the scenes.
As a public affairs specialist, promoting and publishing information about federal nutrition assistance programs to partners, media and the public is a key part of the job. But I don’t often get to see the real day-to-day operation of these programs. I have attended summer program kick-off events and visited other program sites for special events. But, I recently got another perspective. I accepted an offer from our regional Special Nutrition Programs branch to participate in a Summer Food Service Program review.
This cross-training experience provided a first-hand look at how the program works from the inside. I learned how our regional staff and state partners monitor sponsors and sites to make sure they are in compliance with rules and regulations to ensure program integrity and healthy summer meals for kids. Regional Food and Nutrition Service staff is responsible for program oversight and must conduct reviews of new private, non-profit sponsors and sites, often alongside the state agency. At last count, there were 17 of these new sponsors approved in Texas, with 61 new sites. Read more »
“Kids in NY find enjoying the farm’s bounty is a perfect summer activity.” Photo Credit Lindsay Morris
Summer is the season when harvests of healthful foods are most abundant: gardens overflow with zucchini and berries, trees are laden with sweet, ripe fruit, and farmers tend and harvest crops from dawn until dusk. Despite the seasonal abundance, many children go hungry when school is out and the food programs that fed them during the year are no longer part of their daily routine.
Bringing summer’s bounty to hungry kids is “just common sense” according to Cathy Rogers, School Food Service Director for Pipestone Area Schools, located in a small city of 4,000 in the southwest corner of Minnesota. Every day during the summer months, she serves fresh foods from local producers to 400 of her students. Read more »
To enjoy nutritious fresh fruit smoothies - Summer Food kickoff participants power a blender using a stationary bicycle.
On the grounds of Valley Hi-North Laguna Library in Sacramento, California, upwards of 150 children participated in the California Summer Meals kickoff event hosted by the California Summer Meal Coalition, Sacramento Public Library, and the Elk Grove Unified School District. USDA’s Summer Food Service Program offers free meals during summer break so kids are better fueled with healthy food to learn and grow all year long.
Though the weather approached 100 degrees, the children were not deterred from learning about the importance of healthy meals during the summer months at this event. Read more »
Food and Nutrition Undersecretary Kevin Concannon (kneeling) and RD RBS Administrator, Lillian Salerno (far left) share a funny moment with two young men participating in this year's FNS Summer Feeding Program.
USDA in Virginia is forging partnerships this summer to ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Under the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) based program, free, nutritious meals are provided to all kids 18 years old and under at approved sites in areas with significant concentrations of low-income children.
The Food and Nutrition Service’s Summer Food Service Program has found an ally in its fight against childhood hunger with its partnership with USDA Rural Development Multi Family Housing Program to help get the word out about the problem of summer nutrition. With over 270 Multi Family complexes located across Virginia, some of which are in persistent poverty counties, this relationship has the potential to benefit many children statewide. Over 30 kids enjoyed a healthy and nutritious meal at the Sandston Woods Multi Family Housing Apartment Complex on June 25th to kick off the program. Read more »
FNCS Under Secretary Kevin Concannon poses with kids drinking low-fat milk.
Last week Washington DC held a great kickoff event for the summer food service program (SFSP) and I was happy to join in. SFSP is a critical program that keeps kids from going hungry during the summer months and the District is the best out of all the 50 states and territories at getting disadvantaged children enrolled. SFSP is particularly important in the capital because one in eight households face food insecurity and, as a result, may not always get enough food to eat during a day. Read more »
Three children enjoy lunch freshly prepared and served on-site by a food service management company at the Inter Metro Summer Recreation Program in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
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. Read more »