Expanding access to Summer Meals for children in underserved rural areas is a priority for USDA. Innovative partnerships and creative programming – particularly around the rural transportation challenge – have helped State agencies, sponsors, and other partners overcome the barrier, connecting even more children with healthy, summer food.
Spotlight on Anthony, New Mexico!
Children who live in the Franklin Vista Apartments, in this southwestern town near El Paso, do not have to walk far to receive a healthy breakfast and lunch. The Gadsden Independent School District sets up tables each day for children to gather under the covered porch of the apartment community center for a nutritious meal.
Food is prepared at the local elementary school, where it is distributed to schools, churches, and other community sites, including Franklin Vista Apartments. throughout the summer, sites sponsored by the school district provide an average of 2,000 lunches and 1,900 breakfasts each weekday.
Children at the apartments receive meals through the Seamless Summer Option of the National School Lunch Program. The meals help children maintain healthy eating habits, with access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Volunteers from the Children’s Reading Foundation of Doña Ana County provide free books and read stories to keep children engaged.
The summer meals site at the Franklin Vista Apartments is one example of the way USDA is working with States and local partners to expand access to healthy meals for kids in the summer. USDA Rural Development has funded many community infrastructure projects in this small town, including the Franklin Vista Apartments complex.
What worked to make Summer Meals a success?
- Ability to leverage community resources,
- Direct contact with sponsors from previous summers,
- Renewed connections with USDA Rural Development,
- State agency support, and
- Strong partners.