SWPA Children Missing 7.8 Million Meals
Partnering Organizations Trying to Fill Gap
Pittsburgh, PA (June 2015) – In ten counties of southwestern Pennsylvania, 131,000 or 43 percent of school-age children are eligible for free or reduced school lunches. What happens to these children during the summer months when there is no school and therefore no school-provided lunch? These children account for a potential total of 7,860,000 missed lunches because the resources available to them through their schools during the school year are no longer present.
To alleviate this challenge, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Food Security Partnership (The Partnership) offer the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). In 2014, working with community organizations, The Partnership helped facilitate 920,164 meals being served to children throughout seven counties in the Food Bank’s service area. By continuing to work with partners in counties where The Partnership already reaches and beginning outreach in Indiana and Washington counties, the hope is to expand programming and thereby increase the number of meals served in 2015.
“Children are one of the most vulnerable populations that we serve,” said Lisa Scales, president & CEO at the Food Bank. “They are the future leaders of our nation, but without the proper nutrition they are three times more likely to face a lifetime of health issues, and at least two times as likely to face learning and behavioral roadblocks that prevent them from flourishing.”
By partnering with local schools, summer programs, churches and other community organizations, the SFSP is able to provide lunches to children in need through the summer months, often in a creative and engaging way.
In Allegheny County, Touching Families teamed up with the Summer Food Service Program by not only providing meals to children but by hosting Kids Cook lessons at their sites, a program offered by the Food Bank that allows children to learn about food preparation and nutrition.
“Touching Families, Inc. believes that developing community partnerships is a core foundation to building strong and healthy individuals, children and families. The Summer Food Service Program allows us to continue to develop new partnerships with community program sites to bring nutritious meals and quality programming to children across Allegheny County,” said Nicole Richardson, summer food service program coordinator for Touching Families. “The biggest impact we see comes when we serve meals where activities and programming are occurring. As a result of these partnerships, we have seen the number of meals being served each year continues to grow and more children are being reached.”
Through the efforts of many great community organizations and school districts like Touching Families, Inc. that sponsor SFSP sites throughout southwestern Pennsylvania, the lunchtime meal gap for children will continue to shrink during the summer months.
Families looking for summer meal options for their children under the age of 18 can get information by calling 211 or by texting “MEALPA” to 877-877.
Any organizations or individuals interested in learning more about how to become involved with the Summer Food Service Program can contact the Southwestern Pennsylvania Food Security Partnership by email at email@example.com.
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