Free meals are available to eligible children’s sites this summer

DSC_0027compIt’ hard to believe, but the school year is drawing to a close. When the school year ends, access to healthy meals also ends for many children and teenagers. The Food Bank of Delaware encourages community partners to help serve free meals to children in need through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

According to the latest KIDS Count Fact Book, 22.1 percent of Delaware children live in poverty. Despite this percentage, only 21 percent of children who participate in nutrition programs during the school year participate in the free summer program (Share Our Strength).

Beginning June 15, the Food Bank, with help from thousands of volunteers, will prepare and distribute free meals to qualified sites throughout the state. Sites include faith-based organizations, summer camps, sports camps and other centers where children congregate during the summer months.

Neighborhoods and apartment complexes are also qualified to serve free meals through the program. To host a neighborhood program, an adult must contact the food bank for an application to determine eligibility, attend a training session and submit weekly paperwork.

If a site is located in a needy area (where 50 percent or more of the children residing in the area are eligible for free or reduced-prices school meals) and meals are made available to all children in the area on a first-come, first-serve basis, these sites are considered open and available to all children in the community.

“When school is no longer is session, many Delaware school-aged children lose their major food source for the day,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “With the help of the community and our team, we can ensure that at-risk children receive proper nutrition during the summer months.”

The Food Bank of Delaware encourages all eligible organizations and neighborhoods to get involved this summer to help alleviate childhood hunger.

Last year, the state of Delaware distributed more than 780,000 meals to children.

On the menu, participating children can expect to find healthy, kid-friendly foods including cereal and milk, bagels, soy butter and jelly, turkey and cheese, apples, nectarines, celery sticks, yogurt and more.

SFSP is a federally-funded program operated nationally by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and locally by the Delaware Department of Education.

Sites interested in serving free meals may contact Kirsten Gooden, Children’s Nutrition Coordinator at (302) 444-8129 or kgooden@fbd.org. More information can also be found by clicking here.

The Summer Food Program is a federal program of the Food and Nutrition Services, United States Department of Agriculture. This program provides all children 18 years of age and under with the same free meal in accordance with a menu approved by the state agency regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800)795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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