“You assume kids are eating healthy meals every day…. When I found out they weren’t, then I felt like I had to do something about that.”Barbara Mickles, New Deliverance Temple, North Little Rock
Watch Summer Meals video here.
Kids are at Risk in the Summer
For many kids, summertime means two things: fun and friends. But for others, it means the only meal they can depend on ―school lunch―is no longer available. Families are faced with stretching already tight food budgets to feed hungry appetites through the summer. Working parents who know their children are safe, supervised and fed during the school year must make other arrangements for their kids in the summer. It’s little wonder that, left to their own devices, children may make unhealthy food choices or not eat at all.
Summer Meals Feed Kids for Free
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers free summer meals to kids 18 years of age and younger across Arkansas when they come to a registered summer meals site in their area. Summer meals sites can be in schools, churches, community centers and other places that are safe for kids and teens to go. The meals served follow USDA nutrition guidelines and are paid for by the USDA.
Many sites offer educational and recreational activities that kids enjoy. Parents do not need to apply to the program to get a free summer meal for their kids and it does not interfere with other benefits they many be receiving. They can simply bring their child to a summer meals site in their community and their kids can eat a healthy, nutritious meal.
Find a Summer Meals Site Near You
There are USDA authorized Summer Meals Sites in almost every county in Arkansas. Use the national Why Hunger program locator tool to find a Summer Meals site near you at Whyhunger.org/findfood. The site is updated continually as more summer feeding sites are added to the program. If you go to the site and no information is available, try again closer to the last days of the school year.
Become a Summer Meals Site Sponsor
To make sure Arkansas children have free, nutritious meals and snacks during the summer months, it’s critical to have sponsors and locations in communities all across the state. Those eligible for USDA reimbursement as summer meals sponsors may be faith organizations or churches, non-profit organizations (such as the Boys & Girls Club), local civic groups, local food pantries, local government agencies, and existing Summer Food Service Program sponsors with one or multiple sites. In Arkansas, Summer Food Service sponsors are reimbursed weekly for the meals they serve to children. The program is administered in Arkansas by the Arkansas Department of Human Services and the Arkansas Department of Education with Alliance staff assisting potential sponsors in the application process, volunteer recruitment and outreach. If you are interested in becoming a Summer Food Service Program sponsor or adding feeding sites to your existing efforts, contact the Arkansas No Kid Hungry Out-of-School team at email@example.com or call 501-399-9999.
The Summer Meals Sponsor application period opens February, 18, 2014.
Grant Money Builds Program Capacity
As an added incentive, Share Our Strength is providing a grant opportunity for Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors to help organizations expand access and participation in USDA-supported summer meals programs.
Organizations are invited to apply for up to $3,000. Organizations that receive full funding would fully align with the No Kid Hungry Campaign’s goals: access, education, and awareness. These goals are further outlined on the No Kid Hungry website at www.nokidhungry.org . Grant funds are focused on projects with long-term impacts and/or food support infrastructure needs such as kitchen equipment and transportation.
Application deadline is May 16, 2014 (application deadline is subject to change)
- Your organization should be a 501c3 nonprofit organization currently in good standing, and/or other organization recognized by the IRS as eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.
- You must be an SFSP and NLSP summer meal program sponsor for summer 2014.
- You must have already started the SFSP application process at the time you submit your grant application.
- Go to www.grants.nokidhungry.org/
- Create an account by filling in the “Step 1 of 2: Account Set-Up”
- Complete “Step 2 of 2: Contact Information”
- Complete Organizational Information Page
- You will then be taken to a page where you may input your access code: ARSUMMER2014. Note: if you have trouble accessing the application, PLEASE UPDATE YOUR WEB-BROWSER or use a browser other than Internet Explorer.
- Fill in all required information and submit application
- If at any time you need technical assistance or are experiencing difficulties using the online grants portal, please click on the “HELP DESK” link that is in the top right corner of every page.
- For further instructions, click on the SHARE OUR STRENGTH SUMMER MEALS GRANT OPPORTUNITY – GUIDE docx.
For questions about the Summer Food Service Program or other assistance, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 501.399.9999.