|For Immediate Release|
|Monday, January 30, 2017|
|Contact:||Jacqueline Reis, 781-338-3115|
Massachusetts Prepares for Summer Meals Program
Program Provides Children and Youth Access to Healthy Meals
MALDEN - The Baker-Polito Administration, in collaboration with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), will launch the 2017 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in June. The Summer Food Service Program is a federally-funded initiative that addresses the summer child hunger gap by providing free, nutritious meals to economically disadvantaged children when school is not in session.
Each year, the program feeds tens of thousands of children but does not reach all children who qualify. To prepare for this summer's program, ESE is encouraging more schools, municipal departments, and community organizations to host a summer feeding site.
"I am grateful to the site sponsors that help us feed thousands of children every summer, often in combination with fun and educational activities," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chesters. "I hope more sponsors will step forward to ensure students are healthy and continue learning during the summer months."
More than 400,000 children across Massachusetts qualify for free or low-cost school meals during the school year. During the summer months, children and families lose access to these nutritious meals and frequently find it difficult to pay for the additional meals. The Summer Food Service Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by ESE, tries to fill this gap by providing nutritious meals in eligible areas.
Participation in the summer feeding program has increased annually for more than 20 years, and last summer, over 100 sponsoring organizations together fed an average of nearly 60,000 young people per day at more than 1,000 feeding sites across the state. The program provides children nutritious meals at schools, parks, swimming pools, playgrounds and other community sites, often in conjunction with enrichment and recreational activities. Without access to meals, children are at greater risk of unhealthy eating habits, fatigue and summer learning loss.
Sponsors run the sites with close technical support from ESE and outreach assistance from the Child Nutrition Outreach Program at Project Bread.
For more information about the Summer Food Service Program, go to http://meals4kids.org/s and http://www.doe.mass.edu/cnp/nprograms/sfsp/.