When school is out for summer vacation, millions of children across the country lose access to the free and reduced-price meals they receive during the school year.
The Summer Food Service Program, run by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), aims to fill that gap, providing children with free, healthy meals during the summer months when children often face missing meals and lack the proper nutrition.
Last year more than 20 million children received free and reduced-price meals during the school year, but only 2.3 million received meals through the Summer Food Service Program.
This summer, in 20 states, 23 food banks in the Feeding America network are receiving a Hunger-Free Summer grant sponsored by ConAgra Foods Foundation. ConAgra Foods has pledged $5 million over five years to Feeding America to establish the Hunger-Free Summer program. The funds support programs across the country that help provide more meals to more children. Key components include continual program outreach and branding, strong community partnerships and the combination of summer meal programs with other enrichment activities.
"Summer puts a stress on families and children who are in the need of healthy and nutritious meals," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO of Feeding America, the country's largest domestic hunger-relief organization."With ConAgra Food Foundation's support we are able to get out into communities where the need is strong and ensure that children will not miss meals or go without proper nutrition while school is out of session."
To support Hunger-Free Summer this year, ConAgra Foods Foundation will host a multi-city tour with country music singer and song writer Josh Kelley. Kelley will conduct interviews with national and local media via a satellite media tour, radio media tour, and local market interviews throughout the summer to help raise awareness of this issue.
Feeding America food bank recipients of the Hunger-Free Summer grant are: Redwood Empire Food Bank; Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County; Bread of the Mighty Food Bank; America's Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia; Idaho Foodbank Warehouse, Inc.; Food Finders Food Bank, Inc.; Kansas Food Bank Warehouse; Food Bank of Eastern Michigan; Harvesters-The Community Food Network; Mississippi Food Bank Network; Inter-Faith Food Shuttle; Food Bank for the Heartland; Food Bank of South Jersey; Food Bank of Northern Nevada; Catholic Charities Food Bank of the Southern Tier; Central Pennsylvania Food Bank; Lowcountry Food Bank; Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee; Capital Area Food Bank for Texas, Inc.; Regional East Texas Food Bank; Feeding America Southwest Virginia; Food Bank of the Virgin Peninsula; and Vermont Food Bank.
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Feeding America is the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.