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Summer Meals Program Overview

Wake County Overview



Summer Meals Program Overview

What is the Summer Nutrition Program? The Summer Nutrition Program is a federally-funded state-administered program that reimburses providers that serve healthy meals to children and teens (ages 18 and younger) in low-income areas at no charge during the summer months when school is not in session and during the track out times for year-round schools. The federally-funded program, called the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), makes it possible for community organizations to participate in providing the nutritious meals to children and teens.
Who does the Program serve? The program serves meals to children and teens ages 18 and younger.
When is the Program offered? Meals are served during the summer when school is not in session.
Where are meals served? Meals are served at various sites throughout the County. Sites are places in the community where children receive meals in a safe and supervised environment. Sites may be located in a variety of settings, including schools, parks, community centers, churches, and migrant centers. Some sites are open and others sites are closed.
“Open” sites operate in economically disadvantaged areas where at least 50 percent of children residing in the area are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals, based on local school or census data. Meals are served free to any child at the site. No identification or registration is required to receive nutrition at open meal sites. Our hope in Wake County is to increase the number of open sites in 2016!
“Closed-enrolled sites are established for a specific group of children who enroll in an organized activity program (such as a camp). The site becomes eligible for SFSP if at least half of the enrolled children are eligible or the site location is area eligible (which means half of the children living in that area economically disadvantaged). Because the site is not open to the community, meals are served free only to enrolled children.
How does the program work? There are three main entities involved: state agencies, sponsors, and sites.
 
NC Department of Instruction (DPI) is the state agency that administers the program and communicates with the funding source, which is USDA.
Sponsors run the program and communicate with the state agency. Schools, local government, public or private nonprofit organizations including faith-based and other non-profit community organizations that have the administrative and financial ability to manage a federally-funded program may be program sponsors.
Sites are places in the community where children receive and eat meals in a safe and supervised environment. Sites work directly with sponsors, which provide the food and manage most of the administrative responsibility.   
Are the meals healthy? Yes. The meals served are well-balanced, nutritious meals that help children meet their nutrient and energy needs. The meals follow strict dietary requirements set at the national level and are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Why is the Program important? Children need healthy food all year long. During the school year, many eligible children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch through the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs. When school lets out, many of these children are at risk of hunger. Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process, health and well-being of the child. Lack of nutrition during the summer months may set up a cycle for poor performance once school begins again and make children more prone to illness and other health issues. The Summer Nutrition Program is designed to fill that nutrition gap and assure children get the nutritious meals they need.

Wake County Overview

What is the need in Wake County? Almost 56,000 (or 55,901) kids in Wake County which represents 36% of students in the Wake County public schools are eligible for Free and Reduced-Priced school meals.
How many children received federally-funded meals in Wake County in the 2015 Summer? During the summer of 2015, Wake County saw an increase of 14% more meals served to our children and 38 more meal sites. Despite this growth, only 10% of our economically challenged children across Wake County participated in the federally-funded Summer Nutrition program in the Summer of 2015. There is still much work ahead.
 
What is our goal in 2016? Our goal in 2016 is to serve 36% more meals (over the increase in 2015) to children during the summer. Notably, the goal is the same as the number of students in Wake County Schools who are economically disadvantaged. We want to increase awareness about the almost 56,000 low-income children in the county who need nutritious meals when school is out – and to encourage community engagement around addressing the need.
 
To achieve this goal, Wake County needs to increase the number of sponsors and the number of open sites throughout the County and expand awareness of the meals among families.
 
Who is coordinating the effort to expand summer meals in Wake County? A wide range of public and private organizations are collaborating closely with our state and local government to increase access to summer meals for children. Some of these organizations include 
Wake County Human Services Board and staff
Wake County Board of Commissioners
Wake County Public Schools System
Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina
NC Department of Public Instruction
No Kid Go Hungry North Carolina
Wake County Community Services
United States Department of Agriculture
Southeast United Dairy Industry Association
UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education
Boys and Girls Clubs
Faith-based and community leaders
Wake County Environmental Health
Advance Community Health
And many more…
 
Photo: CDC/Amanda Mills