Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Summer Feeding Fun in the Sun: Park and Recreation Agencies Help Fill the Gap during Warmer Months for Kids Who Depend on School Meals for Nutrition

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Summer Feeding Fun in the Sun: Park and Recreation Agencies Help Fill the Gap during Warmer Months for Kids Who Depend on School Meals for Nutrition

Article excerpt

There are incredible efforts being made across all sectors of society to sustain our nation's children and their access to nutritious meals. Traveling across the country, I have seen partnerships among government departments, school districts and community organizations that have made eating healthy "cool" in school again--more than 90 percent of the country's schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) report they are now operating under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) improved nutrition standards.

As the summer approaches, however, it is no secret that millions of kids face a significantly higher chance of experiencing hunger when schools are out of session. Last year, 31 million students participated in the NSLP each day during the school year, and 21 million of those students qualified for free or reduced-price meals. Only about 3.5 million of those children accessed meals through summer programs, revealing a substantial hunger gap in one of our most vulnerable h populations. USDA's Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is critical to closing that gap, and through SFSP, partners like NRPA can provide free nutritious meals to children in their communities.

Over the years, park and recreation departments have worked closely with states, community organizations and school districts to increase access and participation in SFSP. These direct collaborations have been innovative and without a doubt some of my favorite--from offering pool memberships to allowing kids additional access to library books, the site activities have grown in creativity and continue to encourage high average daily attendance. …

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