School is almost out, but for most low-income kids who rely on school meal programs, this means poor nutrition and even empty stomachs. According to the USDA, only one in seven children who participated in the National School Lunch Program in 2012 also participated in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). This means that six out of seven kids who are at a high risk of going hungry missed out on free healthy meals! We need to do better for our kids here in Virginia.
To educate people about the benefits of the SFSP, the USDA is organizing the Summer Meals Awareness Week from June 2 until June 8. SFSP was created to make sure that low-income children continue to receive free meals meeting Federal nutrition guidelines over the summer recess. Often these breakfasts, lunches, and snacks are paired with recreational and learning activities – an excellent opportunity to keep kids physically and mentally healthy. Schools, camps, churches, and even community organizations are all able to operate the SFSP. Some sites even offer meals to all children regardless of family income – reducing the stigma of participation and making sure all kids are eating healthier.
Despite the importance of the SFSP, many families are unaware it exists. That’s why we need to get the word out here in Fairfax County. We need to make sure that every child in Virginia is getting fed this summer.
Nick Arent, Virginia Fair Share Education Fund