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MDE Receives USDA Grants to Improve Food Security For Kids During Summer Months

Contact: Martin Ackley, Director of Communications (517) 241-4395
Agency: Education

January 5, 2012

LANSING - Michigan will continue to provide and study innovative ways to address the critical need of providing healthy nutrition during the summer months to low-income children.
The Michigan Department of Education has been awarded grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to find additional methods beyond the effective Summer Food Service Program to reach low-income children and provide them with healthy food when school is not in session.
"Even with the Summer Food Program, we know that a lot of children can fall through the cracks and not receive nutritious food while they are off from school," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. "These test programs are targeted to study the importance of summer nutrition for kids and finding ways to reach as many kids as possible."
Michigan will receive $309,354 to continue its 2011 demonstration project in Grand Rapids.  The 2012 Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children (SEBTC) will allow for 5,000 students to receive food benefits valued at $60 per month for June, July, and August 2012.  This is double the number of children selected for the pilot program last year.  
Michigan also was awarded a second grant to expand the demonstration project to more rural communities of the state.  A $460,136 grant will be used in the Bay-Arenac Intermediate School District; the Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District; the Midland County Education Service Agency; and the Tuscola Intermediate School District areas to bring summer food benefits to low-income families there.  These areas represent 32 school districts and over 22,000 low-income students.  A random selection of 5,000 students will take place next spring to bring the same monthly food benefits to each of these children, replicating the pilot program in Grand Rapids.
USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon said, "Low-income children are at a heightened risk for food insecurity in the summer months, when schools are closed and many low-income children find it difficult to get the healthy nutrition they need. These projects offer a wonderful opportunity to build on the success of the Summer Food Service Program and explore new ways to combat childhood hunger."
The two grants will be administered by the joint partnership of the Michigan Department of Education and the Michigan Department of Community Health - WIC Division.  This summer food benefit will help low-income families supplement their food budgets when school breakfast and school lunch meals are not readily available.
The $60 monthly food package per student per month will be delivered to the families by an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card system existing through the State of Michigan WIC program.  Both demonstration projects will be studied and evaluated by USDA, providing critical information about the impact of these projects in the fight against hunger among students during the summer months.
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