Cross-posted from the National Dairy Council blog:
Summer vacation is something all kids look forward to, but unfortunately hunger doesn’t take a vacation. More than 21 million American children and teens depend on free or reduced-price school meals during the school year, and when school cafeterias close, many of them lose their most important source of balanced nutrition and are at risk of going hungry.
That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and dedicated partners like National Dairy Council are working to provide nutritious meals to hungry kids throughout the summer. We know that children are particularly vulnerable to hunger and poor nutrition during this time. And our summer meals programs are well-poised to help fill this gap, serving as an important source of nutritious food for children and youth during the long summer break. Read more »
Enrichment activities help keep children and teens engaged, while they receive a healthy meal or snack at USDA summer meals sites.
The following guest blog was submitted by Kyle Zimmer, CEO of First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides access to free and low-cost books to children in need. Many USDA summer meals sites provide not only healthy meals and snacks, but also offer physical activity and enrichment activities to keep children and teens engaged and coming back. First Book serves up a helping of books and educational resources to support these meals sites while they provide healthy options when school is out for the summer.
By Kyle Zimmer, CEO of First Book
We all know that nutrition is closely tied to school performance. Brains and bodies need healthy foods to nourish and nurture their development. While schools play a critical role in providing free and reduced cost breakfasts and lunches during the school year, those needs can be even greater in the summer when children are out of school and families’ limited food budgets need to account for those extra meals. Fortunately, thanks to the federally-funded Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), healthy summer meals are available for children in low-income neighborhoods. We just have to work together to make sure families know about summer meals programs available in their community. Read more »
Childhood Hunger in America infographic. Click to enlarge.
USDA nutrition programs help families gain access to safe, nutritious food. Still many families with children don’t have the security of knowing they will be able to feed their family tomorrow. Further, many families often rely on cheaper, less healthy foods because of financial constraints and transportation issues. USDA is working to address the intertwined challenges of hunger, malnutrition, and childhood obesity through several initiatives, including the newly announced Child Hunger Demonstration Projects and increased efforts in USDA Summer Meals Programs. Read more »
Every day, millions of students are able to enjoy a nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunch thanks to the National School Lunch Program. Everyday they’re in school, that is. But what happens to these children when school lets out during the summer? That’s when vital programs offered by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service come into play. The summer meals program defends against hunger – ensuring that millions of the most vulnerable Americans have the energy they need to perform at work and school by receiving a healthy meal or snack when school meals are not available. Those meals are served at a variety of community centers throughout the country.
In the summer of 2014, USDA set a goal of serving 10 more million meals than in the summer of 2013 through the two programs that comprise USDA’s summer meal programs: USDA’s Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program’s Seamless Summer Option. With the help of partners, elected officials, and community leaders across the country, the goal was exceeded. We now want to build on that momentum. We’ve set new goals and need your help. Read more »
On June 13, 2013, FNS staff participated in a Summer Food Service Program Kick-off event in Sacramento, CA.
It may be the middle of winter, but at USDA, we like to celebrate the success of our Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) all year long. Therefore, the Western Regional Office is thrilled to announce the winners and honorable mentions of the 2014 Summer Sunshine Awards. A total of eight organizations across the region received Sunshine Awards in 4 unique categories in recognition of their standout efforts in operating the SFSP. The programs impact in local communities depends on the hard work of state agencies, partnering organizations, local sites and sponsors. These awards only begin to show our appreciation for the dedication, innovation, and passion behind the respective organizations.
In the category of Strategies to Promote Nutrition and Wellness, California’s Riverside Unified School District was awarded the honor for employing innovative strategies by collaborating with local partners to provide nutrition education and physical activities at summer meal sites. The Boys and Girls Club of Ada County in Idaho was also awarded the distinction for their incorporation of fresh local produce into summer meals and offering opportunities for physical activity to children at their summer meal sites. Read more »
This has been a tremendous year for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the rural families and communities we serve. Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden recently shared a reflection on her most inspirational moments this year. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished at USDA over the course of this year, and I thought I’d take a moment to share just a few of our top accomplishments. Read more »