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News Release - Help ensure all children in Colorado have access to healthy meals this summer
Help ensure all children in Colorado have access to healthy meals this summer
DENVER –The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), administered by the Colorado Department of Education’s Office of School Nutrition, seeks sponsors, sites or state partners to ensure children can continue to receive healthy meals during the summer when many children don't have access to school lunch, breakfast or after-school meals.
The SFSP fills this gap by providing free meals to millions of children across the country who otherwise might go hungry. Over the last three years, program data show that youth participation in the Summer Meals Program has held steady. However, according to the Food Research and Action Center’s Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation report, Colorado still ranks as the 40th lowest state for participation in the Summer Meals Program.
“Summer break can be a struggle for families who suddenly must deal with things like child care and meal preparation during the workday,” said Erin Ulric, implementation director of Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger. “We are excited to collaborate with partners across the state to raise awareness of the importance of the Summer Meals Program in reducing child hunger year-round.”
CDE’s School Nutrition Unit has partnered with Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger and Hunger Free Colorado to increase access to the Summer Meals Program through increasing awareness of the program and providing resources and training to existing or new program sponsors.
“At Hunger Free Colorado, we are always looking for ways to encourage all kids to participate, thinking creatively on how to get the information out to those who need it, especially as we try to expand the program across the state," said Paola Babb community engagement and child nutrition manager at Hunger Free Colorado.
Sponsors at the local level can include public and private non-profit school districts, local government agencies, camps and other nonprofit community organizations that can manage a food service program. Participating sponsors then identify eligible sites in their communities that provide free meals to all children 18 years and younger.
Many summer meal sites offer fun learning and recreational activities so kids and teens can eat a healthy meal while staying active and hanging out with friends. Here are some details about the SFSP program:
- Meals are free to youth 18 years and younger who come to a summer meal site.
- Summer meal sites are at schools, churches, community centers and other places that are safe for youth.
- Meals served follow U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition guidelines.
- Parents do not need to apply to the program for their children to get free summer meals. They can just bring their child to a summer meal site in their community.
To find sites nearby, parents and kids can text FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877 or visit www.kidsfoodfinder.org.
To help ensure summer meals are available in your community, become a program sponsor, meal site or state partner for the Summer Meals Program. To learn more, visit the SFSP webpage or contact Carrie Thielen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-866-6759.