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Closing the Summer Hunger Gap for Kids in Rural America

Posted by Armando Vasquez, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA, Food and Nutrition Service in Food and Nutrition
Jun 04, 2015
Children enjoying a nutritious summer meal in Virginia
Children enjoy a nutritious summer meal served at the Sandston Woods Apartment Complex in Henrico County, Va.

Cindy Bomar is a dedicated person; she is dedicated to her job and to her various volunteer organizations.  And most of her charitable efforts are devoted to helping children, especially poor children.

As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for youth in Virginia, Cindy has all too often seen the suffering of poor and neglected children and teens. “I advocate in the best interest of these children so that they are not lost in the system,” she explains.

She has been working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development for more than 28 years, but her current endeavor brings her the most joy.  In fact, as much joy as when a foster child is placed in a safe, permanent home through her volunteer work at CASA.

Working as an Area Specialist, Cindy manages a diverse portfolio of multi-family housing loans throughout 12 Virginia counties. In June 2014, she was appointed by Dr. Basil Gooden, the Rural Development State Director, to promote the Summer Food Service Program  in Virginia’s Rural Development sites.

Many children who depend on school meals run the risk of going hungry for long periods of time during the summer months. The USDA Summer Food Service Program is designed to close the summer hunger gap by providing low-income children with nutritious, balanced meals when school is not in session.  The program is administered by states through schools, summer camps, community centers, religious organizations and other approved sponsors that support children and families.

In 2014, Rural Development had two participating sites that served lunches to children during the summer months. Thanks to Cindy’s commitment, more than 40 sites at several Rural Development complexes in Virginia are now interested in starting a summer feeding program this year.  And because of Rural Development's efforts, two U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development complexes are also planning on starting a summer feeding program.

“It’s all about helping the children obtain nutritious food when they are out of school and helping families with tight food budgets in the summer,” said Cindy. “That is my life’s passion.”

Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition