Ensure no child goes hungry this summer

Summer food service programs available in your community.

50 million people in the U.S. – one in four are children – do not know where their next meal is coming from.  When school is in session, these students rely on free and reduced cost lunch and breakfast programs. In the months between school, hunger does not take a vacation and programs like the Summer Food Service Program can provide lunch and even breakfast for many low-income children five days a week.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was established to ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is out. The free meals must meet the Federal nutrition guidelines and are provided to all children 18 years and younger at approved SFSP sites in areas with significant low-income populations.

Nearly 18 million students nationwide depend on free and reduced priced lunch and breakfast during the school year. For many of these children, summer breaks expose them to an increased risk for hunger.

Michigan State University Extension is one organization that helps promote the Summer Food Service Program so more children will participate and less will go hungry. We know that children who miss meals are more likely to be sick, absent or tardy, disruptive in class and inattentive. These students also score lower on achievement tests according to the USDA. Good nutrition – even when school is out – is essential for learning at school.

The SFSP, with support from the USDA, gives local organizations and schools the opportunity to improve a child’s physical and social development with healthy meals. This program can help students return to the classroom ready to learn.

SFAP programs team up with 211 call centers and provide free and confidential information and referrals to services that provide help with food, housing, employment, health care and more. 211 is currently in all 50 states and serves over 90 percent of the population. 

These federally-funded programs are designed to alleviate hunger during the summer months and operate through partnerships between USDA, state agencies and local organizations.

Last year, USDA’s summer feeding programs provided 161 million meals, feeding approximately 3.5 million children daily. In order to ensure that no child goes hungry this summer, USDA and its partner are redoubling their efforts to reach more eligible low-income children. 

In Macomb County there are 38 sites where children can get free lunch and at some sites even breakfast too. You can call 211 for a site near your neighborhood or on-line visit www.whyhunger.org/findfood to use an online map.

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