Dunbar Elementary School students enjoying fresh, local strawberries during Delaware's Strawberry week.
The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country. We thank them for sharing their stories!
By Nancy R. Mears, Supervisor of School Nutrition, Delaware
Farm to School (F2S) means different things to different people depending on where you live in the country. In Delaware, utilizing F2S to source local produce allows Laurel School District to meet the fruit and vegetable requirements of the new meal pattern outlined by federal guidelines for school meals. With a little creativity, we found these guidelines can be met with this valuable resource.
Delaware’s Farm to School Program unifies 19 school districts and assists all schools in purchasing local products. F2S is an economic benefit to Delaware farmers, as well as its economy and agricultural industry. Read more »
AMS Deputy Associate Administrator Karen Comfort, Feds Feeds Families’ 2014 National Program Manager, tells the crowd that the campaign delivered 14.8 million pounds of donated food that went to food banks and pantries across the country.
When I became National Program Manager for the 2014 Feds Feeds Families campaign—the sixth annual, nationwide food drive of Federal employees—I challenged Federal employees nationwide to help knock out hunger by supporting this year’s initiative. I had every confidence that our Nation’s civil servants would step up in a huge way. Feds have a tradition of generosity and answering the call whenever, wherever, and however they are needed. Even so, this year’s results far exceeded my expectations: 14.8 million pounds of donated food went to food banks and pantries across the country. That’s 7,400 tons of food this year.
Since 2009, the campaign has donated almost 39 million pounds of food to families and individuals in need. All Federal agencies across the country participated. Federal employees donated both perishable and non-perishable food items throughout the summer. This year Feds Feed Families also encouraged employees to take advantage of gleaning (clearing fields of unused produce). Read more »
While providing children with nutritious meals is the top priority of USDA’s summer meal programs, activity programming is also important for healthy kids.
Libraries remain a part of the fiber of American communities, with over 123,000 operating across the nation. And in states like Idaho, libraries provided children with more than just books! For the second straight year, the Idaho Commission for Libraries teamed up with AmeriCorps VISTAs and local summer meal sites to offer “Literacy in the Park”, a program to bring fun educational activities to existing Summer Food Service Program meal sites.
They say “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”! But “Literacy in the Park” proved that you can certainly add to it! Julie Armstrong from the Commission for Libraries said, “We thought, if kids are already at the parks eating, let’s offer them literacy activities along with those meals.” Ten AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers from the Idaho Foodbank assisted with literacy programs at different Boise sites, each sponsored by the Idaho Foodbank and the Oasis Food Center. Read more »
These students aren’t only getting free meals this summer; they are also exposed to learning in the library.
Collaborative efforts are the heart and soul of USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, and these successful partnerships were thriving across the nation this summer. Many organizations, non-profits, schools, churches, and others have teamed with USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to expand this vital program. And now that summer has come to an end, the success stories we’re hearing are music to our ears.
Among them, we’re highlighting two unique organizations with amazing stories to share. Read more »
Bellies full from lunch, children at Old Plank Estates in Butler, joined USDA Rural Development State Director Thomas Williams and other partners in the USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to celebrate National Farmers Market Week. Old Plank Estates, a USDA and HUD funded Multi-Family Housing Complex, is a distribution site for the SFSP, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, with food service provided by the Paul Lawrence Dunbar Community Center. Lunch is served daily to 20-30 children from the complex. In honor of National Farmers Market Week, Freedom Farms brought a bushel of fresh picked nectarines to the children and talked with them about fresh foods. As an added bonus, Freedom Farms is a new partner in the program, offering to donate fruit each day and to help the children plant a garden at the complex next spring.
They looked like apples to the twenty-seven children who were waiting patiently in line for lunch as part of the USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) at Old Plank Estates in Butler, PA. But in fact, Freedom Farms, a local farmers market, brought a bushel of fresh picked nectarines for the children in honor of National Farmers Market Week. Lisa King from Freedom Farms explained to the children that, while nectarines may look like apples, they’re more like peaches without the “fuzz”. Giggling, with juice running off their chins, the children enjoyed the foreign fruit.
The USDA program is administered in Pennsylvania by the Department of Education. Old Plank Estates, a USDA Rural Development and Housing and Urban Development funded multi-family housing complex, is partnering with the Paul Laurence Dunbar Community Center to provide the meals to the children. As an added bonus, Freedom Farms is a new partner in the program, offering to donate fruit each day and to help the children plant a garden at the complex next spring. Read more »
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 »