USDA Summer Meals to Help Needy Families

By: Melaina Gasbarrino

Summer is a time for kids to enjoy the playgrounds, beaches and parks; it's not a time to think about whether or not there will be food on the table. Families across America are struggling to provide for their children during the summer months because of high food prices or their dwindling incomes.

Noted on USA Today's, "USDA Looks to Get More Meals to Kids in Summer" The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recorded that, "of the 20.6 million children nationwide who receive free or reduced-price lunches, less than one in five get meals when school lets out." This posses as a problem for many families around America as the unemployment rate is at an all-time high. Families in America need a solution, and they need it now.

Knowing families are unable to provide for their children is a tough dilemma. Looking at the statistics, in "Food Insecurity: Reprioritizing Poverty," over 14% of Americans are considered below the poverty line. This increases the USDA's initiative to increase food programs around America. By receiving a grant to develop new and innovative initiatives around America the USDA is testing program after program to develop a perfect fit to ending children's summer hunger issues.

The USDA enhanced Arkansas' movement towards a happy and healthier state. With a 40% increase of meals served to families and transportation for families on welfare the USDA's new initiative is certainly making an impact on families across America. Another example is found in Cape Cod, where a YMCA is delivering breakfasts and lunches to 110 children, seven days a week. With 13 states sending home backpacks to children's homes filled to the brim with food and a 5% increase in Mississippi's number of meals served to children and families, there certainly is a positive rise in providing a basic necessity to those who need it most.

The USDA continually encourages children to focus on healthy eating and healthy lifestyles throughout the year. By visiting their youth resources website you can find multiple 'Kids Zones' that provide healthy living educational awareness plans. The USDA and Food and Nutrition Services also have developed SNAP. This program, The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, enables all to obtain healthy meals throughout the year. The program benefits low incomes families and provides the necessary resources to purchase nutritious food through a monthly budget.

With multiple schools that focus on healthy eating, the USDA's, School Breakfast Program provides schools with the necessary means to feed hungry stomachs in the morning.

Of course our website surely isn't shy of providing information on children's hunger needs across America and our initiatives to rid this pressing issue. Take a look at "The Share Our Strength Program" that is 100% dedicated to ending childhood hunger all the while educating families on how to eat a little more healthy. Developing healthy eating programs is something we, and First Lady Michelle Obama, see as a very important issue. Developing a Let's Move! Campaign, Mrs. Obama is taking to the rural areas to inform all on healthy eating practices.

With the development of summer food programs popping up throughout America, we can only hope one day more under-privileged families will be able to find a food program nearby that will help fit their needs.

What programs are you involved with in your community to help those who need it most?

Photo: AlyssssylA