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Serving More Summer Meals in Rural and Tribal Areas

Posted by Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary Arne Duncan in Food and Nutrition
Feb 21, 2017
Catholic Charities began their second year providing meals to children up to age 18 through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to children at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan Del Valle, TX. USDA photo.
Catholic Charities began their second year providing meals to children up to age 18 through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to children at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan Del Valle, TX. USDA photo.

Cross-posted from the White House Rural Council blog:

During the school year, over 21 million children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch each day through the USDA’s National School Lunch Program. But, when school is out, many children who rely on these meals go hungry. The challenge is particularly great in rural areas and Indian Country, where 15 percent of households are food insecure. In these areas, children and teens often live long distances from designated summer meal sites and lack access to public transportation.

According to Feeding America, 43 percent of counties are rural, but they make up nearly two-thirds of counties with high rates of child food insecurity. The consequences are significant. Several studies have found that food insecurity impacts cognitive development among young children and contributes to poorer school performance, greater likelihood of illness, and higher health costs.

The Obama administration has addressed the challenge head-on, investing unprecedented energy and resources to increasing participation in the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program.

And the impact has been significant. In 2014, in the peak operating month of July, over 45,000 summer meal sites were available across the U.S., a 29 percent increase from 2009. All told, last summer the USDA Food and Nutrition Service delivered 23 million more meals than in the summer of 2009. But we know that in order to get every kid a nutritious meal this summer, we need to get everyone involved, from schools to federal agencies to volunteers in local communities. Check out this handy toolkit to see how you can help!

Today, the Administration is making a series of announcements designed to serve more meals this summer in rural and tribal areas.

  • Launching the “Summer Meals Site Finder.” Children and parents can now go to www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks on their computer or smartphone and enter an address, city, state, or zip code to find the location and other information of nearby summer meal sites.
  • Bringing in some help! This summer, certain high-need rural and tribal communities will get the help of 60 AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates to help recruit volunteers, raise awareness of the summer meal program, and provide operational support.
  • Partnering with others. We’re teaming up with organizations like the National Football League and Feeding America to help raise awareness, target outreach, and deliver meals in rural and urban areas.

By working together with families, local schools, and private organizations, we are helping to make sure that children can easily get the nutritious meals they need to be healthy and ready to learn when they return to school in the fall.

A smiling girl with orange glasses at lunch. USDA photo.
A smiling girl with orange glasses at lunch. USDA photo.
Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition

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Comments

William
Jul 10, 2015

Thanks for sharing this update on the food program for kids. A friend's children were beneficiaries of a program like this and I know that it helped the family a great deal. It is good to know that measures are being taken to help kids throughout the summer when they would otherwise be missing out on nutritious meals. It would be good if more people could volunteer to get the food to those most in need.

albert
Jul 10, 2015

"during the school year, over 21 million children receive free and reduced-price breakfast " this is huge !!

rosanna noceti
Jul 14, 2015

blue dot on "site finder" for people to find locations for summer food program is not working on the website. Also in my area a automated call gets received for families to get the food program through the school district, and usually in site locations people in the community would rather not go to during the summer months. Integrating with the social needs along with social preferences needs to implemented as well. Who wants to go to catholic charities and a school to get free food? Is there any way this program can look more like a farmer's market and not so much like a poverty look-at-these-poor-families-eat gathering? People living in poverty do not like to stand out as poverty labeled, and want to look as benefited as anyone else in the mainstream society. In other words, why not have something like this going on in the north side of town and only on the south side? Do working people living and owning their own house, do their kids get hungry maybe? The working middle class is now also along the borderline of being the low-income class.... and to integrate these programs only in certain areas of town that "look" poor can be an error of stereotype