USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Monday kicked off National Summer Food Service Program Week, highlighting the importance of ensuring no child goes hungry when school is out.
This summer, USDA has committed to serving 5 million more meals to eligible kids across the country through the Summer Food Service Program.
The SFSP is a federally-funded program designed to alleviate hunger during the summer months and operate through partnerships between USDA, state agencies and local organizations. Last year, USDA's summer feeding programs provided 161 million meals, feeding approximately 3.5 million children on a typical summer day.
"When school is out during the summer months, many families struggle to feed their children even one nutritious meal a day," says USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Government cannot address this challenge alone, which is why, this week, we join our valued partners to raise awareness about the nutrition gap low-income children face when schools close for the summer."
This year, USDA has implemented a call to action for schools, faith-based organizations and communities to increase sponsorship and participation in the SFSP.
In addition, five states – Arkansas, California, Colorado, Rhode Island and Virginia – have been targeted to participate in the program in cooperation with USDA's Strike Force program that focuses on low-income areas.
USDA has also provided resources to help connect families with summer feeding sites.
"USDA's summer feeding initiative supports programs that keep children active and engaged when school is out, reducing learning loss that often occurs during the summer months," said Vilsack.
"We must do all we can to ensure that children get nutritious food year-round, so that they are ready to learn during the school year and have a greater chance to succeed," he added.
News source: USDA