Release No. 0403.11
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623
USDA Announces Results of Summer
Feeding Pilots to Help Prevent Childhood Hunger When School is Out
Arkansas, Mississippi Projects Help
to Reduce Food Insecurity for Kids during Summer
WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2011 — USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today
highlighted the results of two
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
pilot programs in Arkansas and Mississippi that used incentives to increase
participation among low-income children. The study found that the innovative
pilot programs were associated with an increased average participation rate
among kids in the Summer Food Service Programs by 35 percent in Arkansas and 19
percent in Mississippi.
"Hunger doesn't take a summer vacation, and the Summer Food Service Program
helps to ensure that disadvantaged children receive the wholesome, nutritious
meals they need when school is out," said Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition,
and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon. "Through these demonstration projects, we
hope to find innovative ways to increase access to and participation in this
valuable program, to help fill the summer nutrition gap."
The program report assesses the impact of two 2010 Enhanced Summer Food
Service Program demonstrations designed to prevent food insecurity and hunger
among children during the summer months when school is out. The Arkansas
demonstration offered per-lunch incentives to encourage SFSP providers or
sponsors to operate for a greater portion of the summer. The Mississippi
demonstration offered new recreational or educational activities at SFSP feeding
sites to foster higher levels of participation. While a number of other factors
in these states, including some additional funding used by Arkansas to enhance
the program, may have influenced the results, the changes observed are
consistent with generally positive impacts from the demonstrations.
Additional projects, underway this year, will test home delivery of meals and
a backpack food program for kids on days when the traditional SFSP is not
operating, as well as household-based summer feeding approaches using the EBT
infrastructure of SNAP and WIC.
The results also come during Hunger Action Month. USDA has been collaborating
with Feeding America, the sponsor of Hunger Action Month, during September to
spread the word about actions that many different stakeholders can take to end
hunger. Expanding access to the Summer Food Service Program is an integral part
of this message.
USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Janey
Thornton said, "Summer Food Service Programs offer opportunities to continue a
child's physical and social development while providing nutritious meals during
long vacation periods. It helps children return to school prepared to achieve at
their highest academic potential."
SFSP sites operate in low-income areas where at least half of the children
come from families with incomes at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty
level, making them eligible for free and reduced-price school meals. Meals are
served free to any child at the open site. Enrolled sites provide free meals to
children enrolled in an activity program at the site where at least half of them
are eligible for free and reduced-price meals.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service oversees 15 nutrition assistance programs
that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. The
programs work together to form a national safety net against hunger. The
National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs provide nutritionally
balanced, free and low-cost meals to nearly 32 million school children each
school day. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) puts healthy
food in reach for more than 45 million Americans each month, half of whom are