Now that summer has come and gone, I’m happy to announce that this season the USDA Rural Housing Service was able to partner with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to feed more kids than ever before. Three hundred and five Rural Housing Service Multi-Family Housing properties participated in FNS’ Summer Meal Programs, which provide low-income children with free, healthy meals during the summer when school is out. This is 121 more affordable housing communities we were able to serve than the year before, and almost triple the number from 2014.
This is a huge success, and I’m so proud of my team across the country for feeding more kids at our properties than ever before! However, we cannot become complacent because we have the potential to make an even bigger difference in the lives of rural kids. There are more opportunities to partner with borrowers in our Multi-Family Housing and Community Facilities Programs, and I’ve set a lofty goal for summer 2017.
Next year, for the first time we’re planning to actively promote the Summer Meal Programs among our Community Facilities borrowers, aiming for at least one meal site hosted at a USDA-financed Community Facility in every state. We’re also looking at opportunities to reach out to our Mutual Self-Help single-family housing communities, and of course we’ll keep growing our Multi-Family Housing participation at our thousands of properties across the nation.
Because USDA-financed housing and community facilities exist in so many places deep in the heart of rural America, they are the perfect “home bases” for providing vital meal services to children, so we are committed to continuing to grow our kid feeding network across the nation.
Help us help kids! If you want to work with USDA to reduce child food insecurity this summer contact your local USDA Rural Development State Office. The more partners we have, the more kids will feel secure in the knowledge that they’ll be getting regular meals this summer. Now is the time to get involved—many of the state agencies administering the Summer Meal Programs are holding planning meetings this fall. To contact the state agency managing the program in your state, visit www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/school-meals-contacts.