When school ends for the summer many think about summer break but for many youngsters in Delaware it also means that lunches that are provided through the public school system stop as well. With the approach of summer vacation near, the Food Bank of Delaware is encouraging community partners to help serve free meals to children in need through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
Beginning June 10, the food bank, with help from thousands of volunteers, will prepare and distribute free meals to qualified children’s feeding sites throughout the state. Sites include faith-based organizations, summer camps, daycares and other centers where children congregate during the summer months.
“SFSP is important because it helps fill the gap during the summer months,” commented Chad Robinson, Food Bank of Delaware,Milford Branch Director. “For many children, the meals they receive at school are the only healthy meals they receive during the day. When school ends for summer, so do the meals.” Children can expect to see a menu of healthy, kid-friendly foods including peanut butter and jelly, turkey and cheese, apples, yogurt, milk, juice and more.
Robinson also acknowledges that with children at home during the summer months, food budgets increase in households as families now need to provide additional meals. Through the Summer Food Service Program families can utilize the free meal program freeing up money in their budget for other household budget items.
During last year’s SFSP program, the Food Bank of Delaware was able to provide service to 243,812 children statewide, 80,861 of which were children located in Sussex County. Free meals are provided through the Summer Food Service Program. SFSP is a federally-funded program operated nationally by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and locally by the Delaware Department of Education.
This year, the Food Bank is encouraging neighborhoods to get involved to help serve meals in their communities throughout the state of Delaware. 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.To qualify for free meals, sites must operate in low-income areas where at least half of the children, up to 18 years of age, are eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program. There are no fees associated with the program, and meals are available seven days a week.
“No child should go hungry during the summer months,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “With the help of the community we can ensure that children receive proper nutrition when school is not in session. It is unfortunate that only a small percentage of eligible children access these free meals during the summer. We encourage all eligible organizations and neighborhoods to get involved this summer to help alleviate childhood hungry.”
Sites in New Castle and Sussex counties interested in hosting a summer nutrition program may contact Amanda Good, Children’s Nutrition Program Coordinator, at (302) 444-8128 or email@example.com. Sites in Kent County may contact the Department of Education at (302) 735-4060.
Milford residents, organizations and businesses can also get involved by volunteering at the Milford Branch to help pack meals and beverages in coolers for the program. The coolers are delivered by a fleet of drivers to participating sites throughout Kent and Sussex Counties. Interested parties are encouraged to contact the Milford branch by phone at 302-424-3301 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.