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USDA and Partners Nationwide Team to Feed Children during Summer Meal Gap

Release No.
FNS-0003.12

Contact:
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

Second Annual National Summer Food Service Program Week Set for June 11-15

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the second annual Summer Food Service Program Week to promote access to healthy meals when schools close for the summer. During the June 11-15 awareness campaign, USDA and its partners will redouble efforts to emphasize the important nutrition benefits offered through the federal Summer Food Service Program and other healthy meal options available for low-income young people across the nation.

“The Obama administration is focused on ending childhood hunger and tackling the summer hunger problem is central to that commitment,” said Vilsack. “Thanks to the strong support of our partners from state agencies, schools, advocacy groups and faith- and community-based organizations, access to healthy meals during summer is a reality for millions of children in need.”

During the school year, more than 21 million children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch through the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs. The Summer Food Service Program is designed to make sure children can get the nutritious meals they need during the summer months so they’re ready to learn when they return to school in the fall. Last summer, USDA invested $373 million and fed approximately 2.3 million children on a typical day through the Summer Food Service Program.

USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon said, “The nutrition gap low-income children face when school is out of session underscores the need and importance for USDA’s summer meal opportunities. We anticipate bolstering this investment by working to increase the number of sites where disadvantaged children can receive a meal in a constructive, safe environment.”

In partnership with the advocacy group WhyHunger, USDA has developed downloadable Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to alert parents and guardians of the accessibility of summer meals sites for school-age children. Radio stations in many communities have already begun to broadcast the messages, which feature English and Spanish versions. The announcements are at no cost and can be accessed through the Food and Nutrition Service Web site: http://www.summerfood.usda.gov/Outreach.htm

Concannon added that although not every community has summer feeding sites, many predominately low-income communities do. To find a site in your community, call 1-866-3-Hungry or 1-877-8-Hambre.

 Reducing childhood obesity and improving the nutrition of all Americans are vital to achieve a healthy future for America. That’s why the Obama administration and USDA are committed to promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles and to ensuring that all Americans have access to safe, nutritious, and balanced meals.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including school meals programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.