The USDA provides free or reduced price lunches to 22 million children during the school year through the National School Lunch Program; however, during summer break, less than 3 million of those students participate in a summer feeding program sponsored through SFSP or their school. Where do the other 19 million children get their meals from during the summer? In some cases, they may go without a meal, but the goal of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is to eliminate that from being an option! We encourage families in need to find a local feeding site where your child can receive a meal.
SFSP is a federally-funded program administered by the States that fills the summer meal gap for low-income children by reimbursing organizations that serve children meals during summer months. Schools, churches, recreation centers, playgrounds, parks, and camps can provide summer meals in neighborhoods with high percentages of low-income families, which make a difference in the lives of hungry children. The summer food sites are safe and familiar locations where children naturally congregate during the summer.
Don't let the term "summer feeding site" fool you, though. These sites are not mere feeding centers; they can also be nurturing environments that foster learning and physical activity. Sites often feature fun recreational games, like kickball, or nutritional games where children learn how to maintain a healthy diet. Youth can also use SFSP as an opportunity to participate in community service by volunteering to serve meals at feeding site.
Let's do a quick summary about SFSP; it:
- Feeds children during a time when they may be hungry;
- Gives children an opportunity to be active;
- Gives families assurance about the well-being of their children during a time when they may not be able to supervise them; and
- Creates community service opportunities for youth.
Are you interested in taking the next step to participating in SFSP? Visit http://www.whyhunger.org/findfood to find a summer feeding site in your area, or www.summerfood.usda.gov to learn more information about the program. Summer should only be a break from school, not from healthy meals.