Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the USDA blog.
As summer time begins, I think of children playing with their friends and having a great time as they enjoy their vacation from school. I am also very aware that some children may go hungry during the summer months. Fortunately for children in the Rio Grande Valley on June 1, Catholic Charities began their second year providing meals to children up to age 18 through USDA’s Summer Food Service Program. Catholic Charities is now providing summer meals in Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties in South Texas.
Catholic Charities kicked-off the SFSP at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan Del Valle on May 24. Attending the event were DeAdrian Maddox, USDA, Angela Olige, Texas Department of Agriculture assistant commissioner, Eddie Lucio Jr., Texas senator, Daniel E. Flores bishop of the Diocese of Brownsville, San Juanita Sanchez, San Juan mayor, and local community organizations. During the kick-off, children from Idea Public School enjoyed a nutritious lunch and participated in various activities.
In Bishop Flores’ remarks to the audience, it was clear that he was happy to continue supporting the efforts of the federal, state and local community as they work together to provide children healthy meals during the summer. Catholic Charities partnered with local communities to make feeding sites available in rural areas and colonias.
The Summer Food Service Program is a federally funded program that is administered by the states in which they reimburse organizations for meals served to children during the summer months. Although USDA funds the summer program, local organizations make the program work by becoming sponsors that serve nutritious meals and snacks at schools, recreation centers, playgrounds, parks, churches, day camps, summer camps, housing projects, and Indian reservations.
As I saw the children eat their lunches in San Juan, I realized how important a role SFSP plays in reducing food insecurity. That’s why the Food and Nutrition Service continues to work every day with potential partners to close the gap.
Georgina Castillo is a Public Affairs Specialist for the Food and Nutrition Service at USDA.