USDA Approves Demonstration Project to Reduce Food Insecurity in Rural Alaska
Over 4,000 children in rural communities can benefit from new project
WASHINGTON, DC (January 17, 2024) – USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has approved the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development’s (AK DEED) request to create a demonstration project, Alaska Meals to You (M2Y), to reduce food insecurity in rural Alaska. Alaska’s vast geography and limited accessibility make traditional meal programs challenging, especially in summer months when children are less likely to congregate in communal settings such as schools.
This demonstration project will determine how to best serve rural Alaskan children during the summer months utilizing the recent rural non-congregate authority for summer meal programs through two main methods. The first includes delivery of a weekly box of ready-to-eat (RTE) shelf-stable foods for each eligible child, containing up to seven breakfasts, seven lunches, and seven snacks.
“The Alaska M2Y Demonstration Project is a result of FNS’s recent visit to Alaska to hear directly from stakeholders and families in Alaska, including Native communities.” said FNS Administrator Cindy Long. “The Alaska M2Y builds on a previous project operated in some Alaska communities. This innovative project builds upon that success, and we appreciate the efforts of the Department of Education and Early Development to support children in Alaska.”
Additionally, Alaska is approved to test alternative models of delivering bulk food boxes to central community hubs, like a school or community center, library, or directly mailed to households containing food to prepare up to seven breakfasts and seven lunches and containing seven RTE snacks per eligible child. All meals will comply with federal child nutrition guidelines. Canned or dry milk may be substituted in some instances depending on delivery method.
Alaska M2Y will measure and compare cost-effectiveness, participant satisfaction, nutrition quality, and other key indicators over a three-year period. These measures will be used to define a sustainable framework for implementing service to high-need, hard-to-reach areas of Alaska with alternative non-congregate summer food models. This demonstration project can serve over 11 rural communities and 4,025 participants in remote regions of Alaska.
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring families have consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable foods—an effort highlighted during the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, held last year. As a result of the conference, the FNS set ambitious goals to end hunger, improve nutrition, increase physical activity, and reduce diet-related diseases.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of 16 nutrition assistance programs, such as the school breakfast and lunch programs, WIC and SNAP. Together, these programs serve 1 in 4 Americans over the course of a year, promoting consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food essential to optimal health and well-being. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. FNS’s report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service,” highlights ways the agency will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy, released in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022. To learn more about FNS, visit www.fns.usda.gov and follow @USDANutrition.
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