WASHINGTON, August 1, 2013—An Agriculture Department evaluation released today examines the impact of a new alternative delivery method for providing low income children with access to food during the summer months when school meals are not available. As part of its ongoing commitment to improving access to healthy food for low income children, USDA has set a goal of serving 5 million more meals to eligible children this summer. Following a directive from Congress, USDA has also conducted a series of projects examining methods to better serve low income children, particularly those living in remote areas or areas otherwise underserved by USDA’s summer meals programs.
Authorized and funded by Congress in 2010, the Summer EBT for Children (SEBTC) demonstration project is testing the impact of providing a monthly household benefit through existing electronic benefit transfer systems on food insecurity among low income children during the summer when school meals are not available. The evaluation report released today highlights the impact of the project during the summer of 2012, including:
- Reaching a significant proportion of low income children eligible for free and reduced-price school meals. USDA’s evaluation found that the SEBTC approach could reach up to 75 percent of eligible children.
- Reducing food insecurity among low income children. SEBTC reduced the prevalence of food insecurity among children by 19 percent, and the prevalence of very low food security among children, the most severe category, by 33 percent, compared to children who did not receive SEBTC benefits.
- Improving the diets of young, low-income Americans during the summer months. Participating children in households with SEBTC ate more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy foods while consuming fewer sugar-sweetened beverages.
The demonstration and evaluation will continue through the summer of 2013. As part of SEBTC this summer, a new set of participating households are receiving a smaller benefit to determine if similarly positive results can be obtained at a lower cost.
USDA continues working with First Lady Michelle Obama on the Let's Move! initiative, which is helping to promote healthy eating and physical activity while supporting the health of American families. Through the combined efforts of USDA and its partners, the United States is beginning to see progress and improvements in the health of our Nation's children.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service 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 www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act.
USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.