February 23, 2016
LANSING – The Michigan Department of Education (MDE), striving to prevent almost 500,000 children from going hungry over the summer, seeks more participants in its statewide Meet Up and Eat Up™ Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
“Many families across Michigan are struggling, and we can’t have children going hungry in the summer when programs like this are available,” said State Superintendent Brian Whiston. “I am calling on schools, churches, local government and civic organizations to step up and have a positive impact on the lives and health of children in their community by supporting the Summer Food Service Program.”
The MDE is looking for more community partners, sponsors, and potential site locations to bolster Meet Up and Eat Up™and to join in preventing up to a half million Michigan children from going hungry after school lunchrooms close for the summer.
In 2015, on average 496,000 low-income Michigan children received free or reduced-price meals during the school year, while only about 104,000, or 21 percent, received free meals or snacks at approved summer meal sites in their communities. The MDE wants to match a national goal of a 40-percent summer participation rate.
“Although Michigan increased summer meals participation in 2015, there is a need to expand,” Whiston said. “The Summer Food Service Program can fill the summer hunger gap for hundreds of thousands of children if there is an increase in community awareness, local government involvement, sponsors to run the program, and sites to serve meals.”
The SFSP serves nutritious meals to children up to age 18 living in low-income areas (where 50 percent or more of the students qualify for free or reduced price school meals). The program operates in schools, public housing centers, playgrounds, camps, parks, and faith-based facilities.
Many summer food sites provide educational enrichment and recreational activities in addition to meals and snacks, helping children continue to learn and stay safe when school is not in session.
Research shows a direct relationship between good nutrition and learning. Meet Up and Eat Up™ is a key building block in Michigan to developing healthy, happy kids who are ready to learn.
Sponsors of summer feeding sites receive federal reimbursement for both the meals served to children and the administrative costs of serving the meals. New sponsors receive free training and technical assistance from MDE.
If you are interested in helping, please call the MDE at 517-373-3347 by March 15, 2016. For more information, visit the Summer Food Service Program Website or write the MDE’s Office of School Support Services, Summer Food Service Program, P.O. Box 30008, Lansing, MI 48909.
The SFSP, administered by MDE through funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is available to children 18 and under regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.