The Summer Food Service Program! by Quin Strouse

June 13, 2013

It’s Friday and my first full week is drawing to an end! It has been filled with meetings, excellent conversations, reading, exploring the Salem and Roanoke, VA areas, in addition to continuing to learn the inner workings of the Feeding America Southwest Virginia food bank. Along with participating in all of these varying activities I also had the chance to experience a Hunger Study as mentioned in my previous post and also take part in site training for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) for children. Let me explain this excellent program as well.

When school is in session food insecure children have access to free or reduced price breakfast and lunch programs, as well as after school programs that provide meals and snacks. The Summer Food Service Program was established to ensure that food insecure children continue to receive nutritious meals during the summer break. Free meals that meet Federal nutrition guidelines are provided to all children at approved SFSP sites in areas with significant concentrations of food insecure children. In order for a site to be eligible to participate in the program it must be located in a school attendance area where 50 % or more of the children residing in the area are eligible for free or reduced price school meals. These programs across the southwest Virginia area are all about feeding kids, but the sites also include programming to provide an educational aspect for the kids, whether it be learning technology in a computer lab, making crafts, or going on field trips. This added benefit provides an avenue for the children to learn more about themselves and others through educational activities in addition to being fed a healthy meal.

In my time with FASWVA this summer I am focusing the majority of my attention to these programs through training the SFSP sites then returning to monitor and complete a review of the sites to make sure that they are following specific guidelines set by the USDA and Feeding America. Now, I can imagine from my explanation that this doesn’t sound like the most exciting position as it may seem that I will just be filling out large stacks of paperwork. Quite the contrary – I am very excited to be able to work with these sites and interact with the children! One site that I visited yesterday was the Summer Enrichment Program at a local church in the Roanoke area. The enrichment program is run by volunteers and they serve 100 children per day for the whole month of July. While going through the training and informing them of the guidelines for the program I could see that with about 3 weeks before the start of their program that they were eager to get started. They’re incredibly excited and they can’t wait to serve!

Over the summer I will be making many posts on my blog about the Summer Food Service Program highlighting the work that Feeding America Southwest Virginia is doing in the area through the feeding of children along with the programming of the sites. I am passionate about service and working with children and I can’t wait to see the impact when these two passions align.

More information about the Summer Food Service Program and other programs can be viewed at http://www.faswva.org/network/our-programs/83-summerfood.html

Quin Strouse is a senior at Ohio State University and is spending his summer as an intern at Feeding America Southwest Virginia working the summer feeding program for children.

Posted by Dan Michel on June 13, 2013 at 3:26 PM in Local Efforts
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I admire FeedingAmerica and I look forward for the continued success of your programs. I hope your organization could be part of National Social Services, a national online help directory in the U.S. that provides helpful information to the people seeking help from different organizations like yours.

Anyway, keep us posted. Thank you!

Nikki Schlacter
http://www.nationalsocialservices.org/

Posted by Nikki@NationalSocialServices | June 14, 2013 at 8:50 AM

I’d love to learn more about the Summer Food Service Program. I volunteer at a Food Shelf and we have a marked increase in need during the summer. Our % of eligible kids for reduced/free lunch is over 64%. We have tried to have free lunches at the school but the summer school program is only for two weeks and only the ‘city’ kids can access it. Our problem is that the school district is really spread out and a majority of our kids are in the rural area. Do you have any way to address this need? We were going to offer ‘cooking’ classes for kids using only ‘Food Shelf’ products. Access for kids is our biggest issue.

Posted by Kathy Stephan | June 18, 2013 at 11:21 AM

I acknowledge your stand to support and provide this foundation for these two cities in VA and would like to offer a look at the next level. The farm to table programs are key in restoring health in children and people of all ages. For example, many are unaware of what kale is and how to eat it. Getting children familiar and comfortable with digging in the dirt, planting a seed , nurturing the plants, and seeing the growth, then getting to eat it! Wow, they are typically so amazed and in awe of this process, as well as, begin a life to restored health. Can you look into such a program to support your stand please. I am sure there must be farms and knowledgeable farmers who can support you in creating an extension such as this. Thank you!!!!

Posted by Jacquelyn Howard | June 18, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Kathy, thank you for your comment. Access is an issue that Feeding America Southwest Virginia struggles with too. We serve 26 counties in the southwest area and there are a few cities that we cover but there is also a large rural areas as well. As for ways to address access, I can’t guarantee a solution but I will provide some ideas that I hope will help. The first thing I would suggest for you and Food Shelf is to try and partner with churches and other nonprofit organizations in the rural areas. These sites could provide a place where children could go and be fed and there may be something worked out where there could be transportation as well. The Food Shelf would just have to get the food to these sites or the partnering site could pick up the food as well. With partnerships comes regulations and many of these possible sites are ran by volunteers and they may not have a lot of funding but you never know what could be possible. We partner with Vacation Bible Schools and summer enrichment programs at churches, along with YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Big Brothers Big Sisters just to name a few. Overall, these partnerships have been very beneficial! Secondly, we have also recently initiated a mobile food pantry with a refrigerated truck. Instead of people coming to us and our partnering agencies for food we go to them, it has greatly improved our ability in reaching the very rural areas. I hope this helped and you can also find more information specifically on children’s programs on our site at http://www.faswva.org/network/our-programs.html and also stay connected to my blog as I hope to continue to provide stories and advice as the summer goes on! At http://endless-opportunities-faswva.blogspot.com/ Thanks!

Posted by Quin Strouse | June 20, 2013 at 2:11 PM

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