Ensure Children Have Food in the Summer Months When School is Out
Why Should I Care? Hunger does not take a break during the summer months when school is out. Even in good economic times, millions of families struggle to feed their children healthy meals during the summer when their children no longer eat breakfast and lunch at school. As tough economic conditions continue, millions of parents are now unemployed or have had their wages cut and their families' budgets are stretched to the limit. When summer begins, parents of the millions of children who relied on the National School Lunch Program for free or reduced-price meals every day must figure out how to prevent their children from going hungry during the summer.
The Summer Food Service Program was created to address this problem. However, of the nearly 19 million children that depend on free and reduced-price school meals for the nine months that schools are typically in session, only about 2.3 million children participate in the Summer Food Service Program each day. One of the primary reasons for this disparity is a lack of host sites for the program, in both urban and rural areas.
What Can I Do? Offer your organization's space to serve as a feeding site or prepare food for other sites
This winter sign up your community center or congregation to be a summer feeding site. Work with your State to see if you might even be able to become a program sponsor with several sites in your community. Deadlines vary by state, but typically occur in mid-spring. Details are here: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Summer/
Supervise activities at an existing feeding site Children are more likely to attend a summer feeding site if there are recreational or education activities occurring around the meal hours. Share your creative, academic or recreational talents with local low-income children. This is a great opportunity for high school and college graduates. http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/summer/Outreach.htm
Transport food or children to feeding sites, especially in rural areas One of the greatest challenges of operating the Summer Food Service Program in rural areas is getting prepared meals to the feeding sites or ensuring children can get to a feeding site. Volunteers are crucial to making this program operate effectively in rural areas.
Resource Summer Food Service Program Outreach - Use these tools to recruit sites, increase participation, and involve a variety of community stakeholders in the Summer Food Service Program: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/summer/Outreach.htm
Impact of Volunteering Summer Nutrition Programs support quality programs for children and teens that keep them safe, learning, engaged, and active during the summer months. These programs reduce the loss of learning that often happens to children during the long summer break. By helping to enroll your community center, school, day-camp, or congregation as a summer feeding site, you will be giving hungry kids in your community a chance to learn, thrive and be fed all summer long.
Success Story Little River Baptist Church, Ware Shoals, South Carolina
The sponsor is committed to expanding its program as demonstrated by the 58 percent increase in lunches served. Each year, Little River holds two planning meetings, one in February and one in April, with its partnering organizations from all sectors of the community-education, religion, business and the civic arena. The sponsor promotes Summer Food through radio advertisements and flyers which are placed in bags at grocery stores, on windshields at shopping malls, and in mailboxes. Local churches and Girl and Boy Scout Troops also assist the sponsor in distributing informational flyers. The Little River program developed a parent advisory group, a bi-weekly newsletter which is sent to parents of participating children and free health care screening services to attending children and their parents to maximize program participation.