Maureen Berner, Professor for the School of Government at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, talks about her work in getting local elected officials involved with the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). In her presentation, Maureen talks about how there are more hungry families in places that you would not expect and that local leaders have to support these communities. One great way to do this is through the SFSP. It not only feeds hungry children during summer but it can be an economic benefit to their local communities. The SFSP is federally funded and by not utilizing the program, local leaders are leaving a lot of money on the table that could otherwise be used to feed hungry children, employ more workers, and buy food from local producers.
Maureen describes how she was able to put together economic fact sheets about the program at the county level and then take them to county budget officers and leaders to educate them about the program. Her work has produced some great results in North Carolina and could be replicated in other states as well.
SFSP is a federally funded program administered by the States that helps fill the summer meal gap for low-income children by reimbursing organizations that serve children meals at feeding sites during summer months. Schools, churches, recreation centers, playgrounds, parks, and camps can provide summer meals in neighborhoods with high percentages of low-income families, making a positive impact on the lives of hungry children. These summer food sites are safe and familiar locations where children naturally gather during the summer.