Girls enjoying a healthy meal at a summer meals kick-off event.
At USDA, we value the work of the many partners who administer and support our diverse and far-reaching nutrition assistance programs. In my hometown of Chicago, an inspiring group has been meeting year-after-year to ensure that child hunger in the metropolitan area and beyond is eliminated. In this post, Illinois Hunger Coalition’s Diane Doherty explains the important work this group performs.
By Diane Doherty, Executive Director, Illinois Hunger Coalition
On a perfect summer day in June, the Illinois Hunger Coalition joined the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Catholic Charities of Chicago, the Illinois State Board of Education and other members of the Chicago Summer Food Work Group for its annual summer meals kick-off event. The event, which is part of the work group’s efforts to raise awareness and increase participation in the summer meal programs, was held this year at Armour Square Park on Chicago’s South Side. Read more »
Sarah Adler, Nevada USDA Rural Development State Director, facilitates discussion between Federal, State, food bank, and Tribal partners. Photo credit to Jenny Taylor, Nevada USDA Rural Development.
Today in Nevada more than one in four children (28 percent) live in households that cannot reliably provide nutritious meals every day. This dubious distinction makes it the state with the nation’s fourth highest rate of child hunger. And for children living on Indian reservations, the incidence of hunger may be even higher.
What does food insecurity look like on Nevada reservations? With few places to shop, reservation residents have very limited access to fresh produce. Food insecurity not only equates to a lack of nutritious foods available, but also means families must drive great distances to a grocery store. To cope, families choose more canned and frozen foods that will last until the next weekly or monthly shopping trip, which often means less consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Read more »
Mobile County’s Super Food Express bus travels from nine to 12 schools to ensure their children are fed healthy meals when school is out of session.
Fried chicken, sausage biscuits and fried okra are a thing of the past in the Mobile County (AL) Public School Service’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), explained Child Nutrition Director of MCPSS, Susanne Yates.
“The program is providing nutritional meals that are still southern in style but meet the new nutritional standards under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. We rely on southern staples such as steamed mixed vegetables, whole grain cereals and baked chicken. Fried foods have been replaced with more nutritious fruits and vegetables and have not been a part of the meal service since 2006.” Read more »
Children in Baltimore enjoy healthy offerings at one of the city’s summer meals sites.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service partners serve a vital role in the success of the federal Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). These important relationships are critical to helping operate and expand summer meals and sites so that no child or teen goes hungry when school is out.
Evaluating their best practices and listening to their anecdotes confirms that kids truly depend on these healthy meals over the course of the summer. During the first day of the summer feeding program, the Hopkins County Family YMCA in Kentucky served over 500 meals. But that’s not the only difference they made that day. The director was at the store picking up supplies, when the cashier asked about her purchase. The director explained the details of the program and the woman’s eyes filled with tears, as she relayed that her husband just lost his job and the family had become desperate. She was put at ease knowing that the Summer Food Service Program will be available to feed her children this summer. Read more »
FNS Regional Administrator Pat Dombroski, with youth at a summer meals site run by the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club in Seaford, Del.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to see the many happy faces of children playing on the recreational fields of the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club in Seaford, Del. They were there as part of a Summer Food Service Program showcasing USDA’s Eat Smart. Play Hard Campaign. It was easy to get caught up in the excitement generated by the Power Panther, the campaign’s mascot, as he danced through the crowd of more than 500 young people. And after enjoying face painting and organized games, the kids were able to relax and enjoy a healthy cook-out style meal.
When school lets out, millions of our nation’s children no longer have access to healthy school breakfast or lunches. Of the 21 million children who receive free and reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program during the regular school year, only 3.5 million participate in summer meal programs. USDA’s summer meals programs aim to fill the hunger gap for our children, and by the looks of the impressive site in southern Delaware, they were meeting that goal. Read more »
Rowe with kids and the Power Panther at the PowerHouse Ministries site in Marshall, MO.
This spring I had the opportunity to visit several summer feeding sites to witness the efforts of local organizations and states agencies so instrumental in the success of USDA’s Summer Food Service Program. I had the chance to join our essential partners during summer meals kick-off events throughout the state of Missouri. It was especially gratifying to meet so many members of highly-engaged communities and the children and teens that benefit from their support.
During my May visit, I was honored to participate in a roundtable discussion at the St. Louis Area Food Bank while a new partnership was being forged. The lively conversation about successes and challenges of feeding kids nutritious summer meals included representatives from local, state and federal organizations. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and some of his staff attended to voice the city’s support of the summer feeding programs and offer ideas for feeding site activities, including creating butterfly gardens. Read more »