Supporting Summer Meals
Before you know it, summer will be here and that means a lot of fun in the sun, especially for our kiddos throughout the state.
Cities and towns do a lot to support programs targeted for children, and I want to put in a plug for one that I think is keenly important and where municipal leaders can play an important role - supporting summer meals programs.
During the school year, 21 million children receive free and reduced-price meals through the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs. But when school is out, many low-income children relying on these school meals go hungry. To fill this gap, the USDA provides federally funded meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). This program provides free, nutritious meals to children at approved sites in areas with high concentrations of low-income children.
The SFSP brings federal dollars into communities in the form of combined reimbursements for meals and operations/administrative costs. Community leaders can help by making SFSP a priority. Empower your various community organizations to champion summer meals and let these groups know that federal funds are available to support their efforts.
To find summer sites near you, visit Kids Food Finder.
In Colorado, there are 86 program sponsors and 595 meal sites. The number of meals served in 2016 was 1,465,426. Pretty impressive I’d say!
Gov. Hickenlooper has declared June National Summer meals for Hungry Children Awareness Month, and one goal of the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) Office of School Nutrition is to increase program access and awareness in Colorado. The CDE Office of School Nutrition collaborates with statewide organizations to help promote the program and connect with community stakeholders to increase food access for families. The statewide marketing campaign includes Denver RTD bus and light-rail advertisements, AMC Movie Theater ads, Family Dollar receipt advertisements, Facebook and Instagram ads, and summer magnets distributed to WIC clinics.
For more information about supporting a summer meals program in your city or town visit the CDE website or email Ashley Moen.
CML is a proud co-sponsor of this effort. I hope you will join in. Let me know.