School lunch

In Oregon, only 36,549 of the 294,754 children who are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals in the National School Lunch Program participate in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) is seeking more schools, community organizations and tribes to participate in SFSP this summer to help ensure that children and teens receive the nutritious meals the need during the summer months.

Last summer, Oregon’s 137 summer food sponsors served more than 1.5 million meals and snacks at 872 locations.

“Access to healthy meals and enrichment programs in the summer supports a child’s educational and physical growth,” ODE Summer Meals Outreach Coordinator Jessica Visinsky said in a press release. “When children miss out on chances for meals and enrichment during the summer, it causes a gap that they must try to make up when school reconvenes.”

Visinksy said supporting the Summer Food Service Program transforms the summer gap into a summer boost.

It is important to expand the program and close the hunger gap in all areas of the state, and ODE’s Child Nutrition Program is particularly interested in serving more summer meals in the following counties: Clatsop, Tillamook, Gilliam, Jefferson, Lane, Lincoln, Marion, Sherman, Union and Wheeler.

What schools and communities can do this summer

Schools and communities play a major role in ensuring hungry kids and teens get the meals they need during the summer months. Ideas on how schools and communities can take “one more” action to get meals to kids include: become a Summer Food Service Program sponsor; Add one more meal. If you are already serving lunch, add a snack or a breakfast meal – or a hot meal; add one more day, week, or month of service during the summer; Add one more site. Sites can not only be in schools, but also in parks, recreation centers, community pools, and libraries; add one more activity at summer meal sites to increase participation.

Schools, non-profit community organizations, local government agencies, camps and faith-based organizations that have the ability to manage a food service program may be SFSP sponsors by entering into an agreement with ODE. Sponsors are reimbursed for serving healthy meals and snacks to children and may manage multiple sites.

Sites are places in the community where children receive meals in a safe and supervised environment. Sites may be located in a variety of settings, including: schools, parks, community centers, health clinics, hospitals, libraries, migrant centers, apartment complexes and faith-based locations. Sites work directly with local sponsors.

Apply to sponsor a Summer Meals Program and apply for outreach funds

ODE has state grant funds available up to $20,000 to start up or expand summer meal programs. For more information, please email Jessica Visinsky or call (503) 947-5897.

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