Summer Food 101 – What you can do to fight childhood hunger in Nebraska

summer_food_service_logoMaking sure Nebraska’s children have enough to eat all year round is one of the biggest responsibilities we have as a community.

Many people are surprised to learn 42 percent of Nebraska children access the Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program.  However, many kids can’t access these meals in the summer when they’re not in school, and many families that make low incomes struggle to pay for extra food in the summer.  As a result, there is a danger that many of our kids go hungry during the summer months.

Fortunately, nonprofits, school districts, and enrichment programs can help to fill the gap through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).  The program provides federally funded meals to children in the summer, when school meals are not available.  This program is vital to making sure children from Nebraska’s low-income families don’t go hungry in the summer.

This week has been designated “National Summer Food Service Program Week” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  In that spirit, we will be telling stories this week of wonderful SFSP sites across Nebraska that are making sure our kids have enough to eat in a fun, safe environment.

You can help in the fight against hunger for Nebraska kids by having your organization sponsor or staff an SFSP site in your community.  As a sponsor, you will provide nutritious meals which are fully funded by the USDA to kids in your area in the summer.  As a site, you will serve the meals in a safe location along with fun exercise and wellness activities.

Many current SFSP sites are at places like:

  • Schools
  • Camps
  • Boys and Girls clubs
  • Park and recreation centers
  • Vacation bible schools
  • Libraries
  • YMCAs
  • Head Start centers
  • Hospitals
  • 4-H Clubs
  • Community action agencies
  • Food banks
  • Homeless shelters

To find out how to start a program to help kids in your community, contact the Nebraska Department of Education, which oversees the Summer Food Service Program in Nebraska, by calling (800) 731-2233, or visit the USDA’s SFSP website.

Operating a Summer Food Service Program site can make a real difference to kids in your community and give our children the best start going into the new school year!

Learn more about opportunities to fight hunger issues in Appleseed’s 2012 Summertime Mealtimes report.

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