This week is National Summer Food Service Program Kickoff Week, a program that ensures children and teens have access to nutritious meals when school lets out. Federal assistance, through the program, is provided to state agencies and non-profit sponsors to help children receive nutrition when school is not in session. Nearly 21.5 million children are eligible for this program, yet only 1 in 6 of them currently receive this according to a 2016 report from the Food Research Action Center.
Poor nutrition during the summer months affects the child's academic performance during the school year. It is one of the many reasons the summer program is essential. While in school, students across the country are eating healthier than ever thanks to the Hunger-Free Kids Act. Students are receiving meals with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and low-fat dairy, which are low in sugar, fat, and sodium. Summer feeding programs continue these great meals and help students return to school ready to learn.
Start Feeding Today
Go to Summer Food Service Program website to learn more about the federal program. The site covers the entire process from start to finish and has some starting ideas for promoting the program locally.
- Contact your State Agency - The state agency will be able to determine your eligibility.
- Promote your Summer Meals Program - We recently talked about some great ways to promote a summer meals program.
- Think beyond the meal - Include fun activities at the site; arts and crafts, games, and physical activities to keep the children coming back.
- Network - Volunteer at other sites to learn best practices and share yours.
10 Million More
This year the USDA announced a very aggressive goal to serve at least 10 million more meals this summer. This is an aggressive goal, but achievable, if everyone does their part to get the word out. Volunteer for a local program and help with kickoff week to crush this year's goal, or start a program in your area.
Many centers are partnering with local athletes and organizations to help promote this great program. The NFL is even providing equipment for flag football.
GA Foods can help your center by providing summer meals and we work with centers large and small. These summer meal programs can cost little to operate, but have significant impact in the lives of hungry kids.
Improving child nutrition in summer means these kids can perform better the following school year. Healthy mental, physical, and social development requires adequate food. As we support summer meals for kids, we are paving the way for a healthier community as a whole.