Indiana Department of Education Announces Summer Food Service Plans
With the help of 246 sponsoring agencies and more than 1200 feeding sites in 2013, the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provided over 3 million free meals and snacks to low-income children across the state. Despite this data, many Hoosier parents and caregivers continue to make difficult choices every day in order to provide for their families. In many cases this leaves the most vulnerable citizens, Indiana children and youth, struggling with the daily problem of hunger.
The Indiana Department of Education is encouraging current program sponsors to expand their programs by adding new feeding sites and extending meal service throughout the entire summer break. Because the limited availability of meal sites and a lack of transportation continue to be obstacles in both rural Indiana and heavily populated cities alike, the Department is encouraging innovative solutions among all local stakeholders. This may include creative partnerships between local government, school corporations, community organizations and private sector groups.
“Hunger is a very real problem across the state,” says Dave Miner, president of a volunteer-led Indy Hunger Network (IHN), a local coalition that consists of public and private anti-hunger organizations. “It is more prevalent than just the people you see on the street or in shelters. Hunger is in the suburbs, in our neighborhoods and our schools. Hungry children suffer developmentally and fall behind in school because their focus is on their next meal. When school is out for the summer, these same children are in greater need of meals throughout the day. That is why SFSP is so critical. The Indy Hunger Network encourages all schools to work with the Indiana Department of Education to develop a plan of action to feed the hungry children in your community throughout the summer.”
The SFSP, created in 1968, is a federally funded program, operated through the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by states. Organizations are reimbursed for providing nutritious meals to eligible children in low-income areas during the summer. Sponsors, including schools, summer camps, community centers, and other organizations that focus on the well-being of children and families, must adhere to USDA regulations regarding the meal service and recordkeeping.
The Indiana Department of Education will host multiple training workshops for sponsors in Indianapolis and around the state. Attendance is required by all new and returning sponsoring agencies. To attend a workshop, please contact Marcia Yurczyk or Tina Skinner at the Indiana Department of Education at (317) 232-6610 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. While additional feeding sites may be added by sponsors throughout the summer, the deadline to become a SFSP sponsor is April 30, 2014.
For more information on the SFSP view the webpage at http://www.doe.in.gov/nutrition/summer-food-service-program.