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Ending Childhood Hunger

Release No.
0230.11

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

USDA Kicks-off First-Ever National Summer Food Service Program Awareness Week

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2011 – Secretary Tom Vilsack today kicked-off the first-ever National Summer Food Service Program Week:“Food That's In When School Is Out,” a week-long awareness campaign to promote USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and other initiatives across the country to feed low-income children during summer when school is out. The SFSP, a federally funded program designed to alleviate hunger during the summer, operates through partnerships between USDA, state agencies and local organizations.

“When it comes to our children, we must do everything possible to provide them the nutrition needed to be healthy, active and ready to win the future," said Vilsack. "But we also recognize that government cannot address this challenge alone, which is why this week we join our valued partners to raise awareness about the nutrition gap low-income children face when school is out of session. Working together, government, non-profit and faith-based organizations, as well as the public, can make sure children have access to nutritious food year round.”

Today, at least 17 million children in the United States face a higher risk for hunger during the summer. Although more than 21 million children nationwide receive free and reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program during the regular school year, little more than 3 million kids are fed in summer meal programs.

This week, USDA and its partners will redouble efforts to highlight the important nutrition benefits provided by the SFSP and other healthy meal options available for low-income children across the country. This summer:

  • Let’s Move! Faith and Communities (part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative) will work with partners to host new feeding sites at congregations and neighborhood organizations;
  • the Corporation for National and Community Service’s 515 AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates will work at anti-hunger organizations across the country to feed more children in programs, including the SFSP;
  • sponsors will benefit from new waivers to simplify existing regulations in the SFSP to streamline ways to feed low-income children when school is out;
  • several states will test innovative enhancements to the SFSP, including the provision of food backpacks to provide assistance over weekends, and meal delivery to reach children in rural areas.

“Each summer, millions of families struggle to provide their children with nutritious meals when schools close,” said Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. “SFSP fills this gap by marshalling resources to curb food insecurity and end hunger for our nation’s children.

To find a summer feeding site in your community, call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-Hungry or 1-877-8-Hambre.” To find more ways you can help, search for volunteer opportunities at www.serve.gov/endhunger.

Improving child nutrition is the focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed into law by President Obama in December 2010. The legislation reauthorized the Summer Food Service Program and USDA’s other child nutrition programs. The Act allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to school meals and increase access to these critical programs. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is also the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and other child nutrition 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 http://www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.

Release No.
0233.11

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

Public-Private Partnership Aims to Connect More Kids to Nutrition Programs and End Childhood Hunger in Virginia by 2015

ARLINGTON, Va., June 7, 2011—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today joined Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and No Kid Hungry National Campaign spokesperson Jeff Bridges to launch the Virginia No Kid Hungry Campaign, a public-private partnership that will work to connect Virginia's children and teens to school breakfast and child care nutrition programs, including summer meals programs. As many schools begin their summer recess, Vilsack highlighted the importance of USDA's Summer Food Service Program to help children get the nutrition they need to learn, play, and grow throughout the summer months when they are out of school.

"The health and wellbeing of our nation is dependent on the health of our children, and no child should ever have to go hungry," said Vilsack. "USDA works to provide low-income kids nutritious meals during the school year and in the summer so they can learn, grow, and reach their full potential. We know that our strength comes from our partnerships, and it will take everyone—government agencies, educators, elected officials, corporations, advocates and community leaders—to ensure that our children have a healthy start in life."

The campaign is an example of the strength of public-private partnerships that will work to connect Virginia's more than 1.8 million children and teens to school breakfast and child care nutrition programs. More than 218,000 children and teens in Virginia face hunger, and studies have shown that during the summer, children are at an even higher risk for both hunger and obesity because they lose access to regular, nutritious school meals. The Virginia Summer Meals for Kids Program, funded by the USDA, provides children free summer meals at hundreds of sites across the Commonwealth. However, more than 80 percent of those eligible for free and reduced-price school meals who can get free summer meals, don't participate. 

In 2009, over 50 million individuals in the United States, or 16.6 percent of the population, lived in food insecure households. Children are most at risk. During the same time frame, over 17 million children lived in food insecure households. These homes had difficulty providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources at some time during the year. The anti-hunger initiatives announced today, along with the Stakeholder Guide to Ending Childhood Hunger recently published on USDA's Food and Nutrition Service website, are all tools to help individuals and families put food on the table.

As of October 1, 2010, USDA passed administration of Virginia's SFSP to the Virginia Department of Health's (VDH) division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Food Programs (NuPAFP). SFSP provides federal funding to eligible sponsor organizations to provide meals and snacks to lower income children during the summer months when school is not in session. SFSP sponsor organizations can be a school, camp, governmental entity, private non-profit organization, or a college participating in the National Youth Sports Program. Nationally, SFSP serves 2 million children a day.

Improving child nutrition is also a focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that was signed by President Obama on December 13, 2010. This legislation reauthorizes USDA'S child nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, which serves nearly 32 million children each day. It will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative. To learn more, visit www.LetsMove.gov.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the child nutrition 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.

 

Release No.
0408.11

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

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2011 – Today, USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon invited children across America to show the country what they or their peers are doing to help end childhood hunger in their school or community by entering the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Ending Childhood Hunger Video Contest.

FNS is looking for original student videos of two minutes or less that show creative ways they or their peers are tackling the problem of childhood hunger or an innovative idea they have that would contribute to the goal of ending childhood hunger in America. The winning videos will be showcased online and will serve to inspire students across the country to take action on the issue of childhood hunger.

"If we want to build our nation for the future then we need to make sure our kids are healthy and strong today," said Concannon. "We can start by ending childhood hunger and working to make sure all of our kids have the nutrition they need. We are excited to learn what valuable ideas kids across America have to contribute to addressing this need that touches the nation's most important resource – our children."

USDA's most recent data shows that while in most households, children were protected from substantial reductions in food intake, children experienced very low food security in about 386,000 households (1 percent of households with children) in 2010. In these households, one or more children do not get enough to eat – they had to cut the size of their meals, skip meals, or even go whole days without food at some time during the year.

To tackle this challenge, last year FNS launched the Ending Childhood Hunger initiative, which included a Stakeholder Guide of ideas about what people can do locally to reduce hunger, an online commitment drive encouraging people to commit to taking a specific action to reduce hunger locally, and a volunteer portal on serve.gov/endhunger.

The video contest launched today as part of Hunger Action Month, is yet another way for communities to engage in the issue and inspire others around the country to act. The contest is open to students from first through twelfth grade. FNS judges will determine the top 12 finalists in three categories: elementary, middle/junior high, and high schools. The public will vote on the finalists to determine the top two winners in each category. Winners will be promoted through various FNS channels including the FNS website, the USDA blog, local and national press releases, Facebook, Twitter, a national webinar, and the FNS Outreach Coalition annual meeting. Videos must be two minutes or less and meet other contest criteria, and be submitted no later than Oct. 21, 2011. For additional information and details on contest rules, please visit the contest webpage.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch Program; the School Breakfast Program; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children; and the Summer Food Service Program. Taken together, these programs comprise America's nutrition safety net.