Ensuring disadvantaged children have enough to eat during the summer is a top priority for USDA. Historically Black Colleges and Universities can play a critical role in helping us achieve this goal.
Although about 21 million children nationwide receive free and reduced-priced meals through our National School Lunch Program, only about 3.5 million meals are served through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) on a typical day. Closing this gap and ensuring that disadvantaged children do not go hungry during the summer months is a goal that USDA can only achieve through work with our partners.
One of the ways we’re strengthening partnerships is through our StrikeForce Initiative which helps us target state partners to work with across the country including universities and colleges. A great example of this initiative at work is the Alabama Department of Education teaming up with Tuskegee University, a Historically Black University in Alabama, which now sponsors four community-based summer feeding sites in Macon County where disadvantaged kids can get a free and nutritious summer meal. Read more »
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 »
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 »
The No Kid Hungry New Mexico Campaign, an initiative of the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger, is gaining partners and momentum. The campaign is less than a year old, but already progress has been made on the 2011 goals: Increasing participation in the summer meals program, school breakfast, and SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s so important to connect eligible people with the federal nutrition safety net. And that is exactly what Share Our Strength and its partners are doing in New Mexico and across the nation to end childhood hunger.
Part of the No Kid Hungry New Mexico campaign centers on school breakfast, an area of special interest to me. I can see the potential to reach more children just by changing the way breakfast is offered to students. A healthy breakfast makes a big impact on a child’s well being – physically and mentally. That translates to better attentiveness, performance and behavior in school, too. This method also eliminates the stigma for low-income children of coming to school early for a free breakfast in the cafeteria. And many children simply can’t get to school before the first bell. Read more »