Summer Food Service Program Feeds Washtenaw County Kids

Food Gatherers Helps Address the Challenge of Summer Hunger


When the school year ends, many children are left food insecure. For close to ten thousand Washtenaw County children, summer spells hunger. Throughout the school year, free and reduced price meals are offered to low-income students through the national school lunch or school breakfast programs, but with school out for the summer, hunger can take center stage.

To bridge the summer meal gap, Food Gatherers hosts the Summer Food Service Program, providing nutritious meals when free school meals aren't an option. This year's program began June 19 and will run through Aug. 25 at 32 sites throughout the county.

"For some children, a SFSP meal is the most nutritious meal they'll eat all day," said LeRonica Roberts, Food Gatherers community food programs coordinator. "Last summer, Food Gatherers served 35,991 meals to Washtenaw County children, and we're on track this year to increase that number by five thousand."

New to the program in 2017 is a kick-off celebration at each participating site. Studies have shown that offering on-site activities helps increase meal participation, so Food Gatherers provides an activity-filled tote that includes sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, coloring books and markers, and sports balls. Participating children each receive a special meal.

Food Gatherers relies on community support to fund the SFSP. For information or to make a donation, visit http://www.foodgatherers.org.

The SFSP is a federally-funded program, created by Congress in 1968 after studies uncovered a direct link between a child's nutritional intake and their ability to learn in school. In Washtenaw County, Food Gatherers is the largest sponsor of the SFSP and receives partial funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Michigan Department of Education to operate the program.

For a full and up-to-date list of Washtenaw County locations serving free meals this summer, visit http://www.foodgatherers.org/summerfood.

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