Will the Children in Your Community Go Hungry This Summer?

For many children, school breaks are not enjoyable or relaxing. They signal a time of loneliness, boredom, and even hunger. For children in low-income neighborhoods, playing outside can be unsafe; watching television fills their day; and skipping meals becomes routine. 

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) can reverse these conditions and make school breaks a healthy and fun experience for all children. The program can prepare them for the coming school year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began the SFSP to fill the nutrition gap for children from low-income areas. Many children who qualify for free and reduced-price meals during the regular school year do not have access to these meals during school breaks. Children in an eligible area can go to their school, a park, or another approved SFSP site, and receive free lunches during their school break.

When coupled with a physical and/or academic activity, serving sites can also provide children with a safe and supervised learning environment. Even without an organized activity, children can still benefit from the opportunity to meet with friends or make new ones under responsible adult supervision.

Unfortunately, the program only reaches a small percentage of children who qualify. Although millions of children depend on nutritious free and reduced-price meals and snacks during the school year, just a fraction of that receive the free meals provided by the SFSP when school is out. Many more children need to be reached by this program. Parents, school administrators, and community organizations can help to increase awareness of the program and ensure that qualified communities are being served.

Again this year, the City of Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine will sponsor the Summer Food Service Program for children, Monday through Friday, from June 17 through August 16, 2019. There will be no service on Thursday, July 4, 2019. Free meals will be available to all attending children who are 1 to 18 years old. Infant meals will not be served.