For many kids, summer is a time of pool parties and day camp. However, far too many children are vulnerable to hunger during the summer. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working to ensure that kids’ tummies are filled when they are out of school over the next few months, and encourages all Americans to take part.
During these recess months, many children are susceptible to hunger since they don’t receive meals at school. While there are approximately 18 million children eligible for USDA’s Summer Feeding Service Program (SFSP), only 3 million children currently receive these meals.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally funded program administered by states that reimburse organizations for meals served to children during the summer. Faith-based, community and private non-profit organizations are all encouraged to participate in this program. Over the past seven months, the USDA has hosted 16 SFSP webinars. These webinars have reached about 1600 people and educated participants on what a feeding site is, where feeding sites can be located, and information for prospective feeding sites and/or program sponsors.
With the help of the Office of the Vice President and Centers for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Health and Human Services and Education, this year’s outreach effort around SFSP reached many new populations that historically haven’t been targeted. Among these, were presentations aimed at Latinos/Hispanics, African American congregations, Muslims, Catholics, rural focused organizations, and AmeriCorps/ VISTA members.
Faith Kingdom Church of God in Christ in Dallas, Texas shared their summer feeding success story during the webinar engaging African American congregations. And Grandview Park Presbyterian in Kansas City, Kansas was highlighted for their great strides using the summer feeding program servicing Latino/Hispanic youth.
You too can have an impact in the lives of hungry kids this summer! Although the deadline to become a sponsor has expired in many states, you can still serve as a site by connecting with a sponsor in your area. You can also help connect children to feeding sites in your community. Please visit the SFSP site for more information on how to get involved. You can also listen to past recordings of SFSP webinars and learn more about how you can help feed children this summer.
Tasha Askew serves as an Emerson National Hunger Fellow at the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.