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Where Do Kids Eat When School is out in Summer? FNS Partners with the Department of Education to Find Solutions

Posted by Audrey Rowe, Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service, USDA in Food and Nutrition
Feb 21, 2017
Federal partnerships, like the one between USDA and the Department of Education, work to provide healthy summer meals solutions for our nation’s children.
Federal partnerships, like the one between USDA and the Department of Education, work to provide healthy summer meals solutions for our nation’s children.

As we approach the summer season, USDA is vigorously preparing to fill the nutrition gap faced by millions of kids across the country. While 21 million of our sons and daughters receive free and reduced-priced lunches during the school year, only a small percentage participate in the summer meals programs, leaving too many of our most vulnerable without a nutritious meal.

A new partnership between the USDA and the Department of Education seeks to transform these alarming rates of food insecurity for the better. Last week I had the pleasure of convening with Dr. Jonathan Brice, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education in the Department of Education. This meeting was the first of the current administration, solidifying the strong partnership in summer meals and placing an emphasis on school participation.

Dr. Brice explained that “the Department of Education believes that summer meals are critical to the success of millions of children across the country.” As a former administrator and teacher in public schools throughout Delaware and Maryland, Brice conveyed the effectiveness of the summer meals program for summer school students, athletically involved youth, and kids of all backgrounds. He emphasized that the Department of Education viewed summer meals as “a critical opportunity for communities to come together and show children how much they matter.”  I couldn’t agree more with his sentiments.

Our partnership is groundbreaking on many levels. To alleviate the burden of hunger in the summer, we need the support of principals, educators, food service professionals, and community members to promote a program that focuses on the nutritional wellbeing of kids in our communities. With program participation growing in schools nationwide, and now the official backing of the Department of Education, the future of increasing summer meals participants and decreasing food security in America looks more promising than ever.

Echoing the sentiments of Dr. Brice, our children need to be well-fed and provided with nutritious meals in order to become successful adults. The more we learn to cultivate unique and effective partnerships, the more effective we will be at ending child hunger in this country. Collaborating with the Department of Education is a step in the right direction to ensure more children have access to healthy foods when school is out.

Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition

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Russ George
Apr 11, 2014

I would like to praise the USDA for it's purchase of 60 million servings of our ocean pasture fed Alaska salmon from last falls largest catch ever salmon in state history. This news portends a world with an abundance of fish. Read how the fish came back to Alaska in historic abundance and how that same fish miracle can be made to happen around the world through the replenishment and restoration of ocean pastures. Here's a link to a story that explains how.

Lori Miller
Apr 12, 2014

I wish this program had been started when I was a kid. My parents never thought about feeding me lunch during the summer.

Royal Rife
Apr 14, 2014

Kids normally eat lunch at home at such times when school is not in session like holidays, weekends and winter, spring and summer recesses. Some kids even bring their own lunches to eat at school.

Erin B.
Apr 14, 2014

Who is responsible for these children? The parents! It seems that the government is becoming more and more the guardians of our children.
What is needed is an education of the parents, how to provide lunch for their children, how to ensure caregivers are providing adequate nutrition to their children while they are away.
There is no need to take this responsibility out of the hands of the parents, but to educate them instead.

Jhin Rizal
Apr 21, 2014

i think kids must eat healthy food, and government must provide it

Royal Rife
Apr 28, 2014

Since when did parents become incapable of feeding their children and needing to be taught how to?

Feb 21, 2015

I do not think that some parents are incapable because they need to be taught how to feed their children, but some parents do not have the means necessary to feed their children. It is a hard concept to understand when you have food on the table each and every meal and know where your next meal is coming from. Some families depend on schools for at least one satisfying meal for their children, and as sad as it is, it is a reality. If you are a school district that services a majority of families that qualify for free and reduced lunches, it should be a priority of yours to make sure that the students are getting what they need. In my school district, on days that are unexpectedly called off due to weather, the district still provides lunches for the families, but they have to come to a designated area to pick them up. We also provide breakfast for each and every student in the district, every single day.