More than half of Arizona’s school children receive free or discounted lunches during the school year. For some it’s the only nutritious meal they get in a day. As we again head toward summer break for schools, USDA Rural Development is working to ensure that every rural community will have locations where children can take advantage of the USDA’s Summer Food Program. We are working closely with our sister agency, the Food and Nutrition Service, in an innovative partnership to help alleviate hunger by providing nutritious meals to children during the summer.
We’re motivated by Agriculture Secretary Perdue’s vision to “Do right and feed everyone.”
Last year we had dozens of summer food sites in rural Arizona but there is so much more that we can do through partnerships.
This year we hope to expand our reach into more rural communities. We’re looking at innovative ways to strengthen partnerships and support infrastructure in rural communities. The summer meals collaboration provides a great opportunity to build innovative partnerships and leverage our collective resources to feed rural children during the summer.
We welcome any new and innovative approaches and partnerships that will allow us to deliver our programs more efficiently and effectively to rural communities and customers.
To that end we are asking groups, non-profits, schools, parks, community centers and others in rural communities to consider becoming a Summer Food site. To be successful in our efforts, we need your help.
If you know of a great location to host meals this summer, please contact me, JC Sherman, at 602-280-8702. My staff and I will be reaching out to schools, libraries, community centers and other locations throughout the state during the next several weeks.
For additional information about the Summer Food Service Program, go to www.summerfood.usda.gov.
Together we can close in on our goal of No Kid Hungry.
For more information about how to sign up to host summer meals, go to www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp/how-become-sponsor.
The writer is State Director for USDA Rural Development in Arizona.