(NAFB)--To kick off National Summer Food Service Program Week - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reiterated USDA’s commitment to ensuring no child goes hungry when school is out. When school is out during the summer months - Vilsack says many families struggle to feed their children even one nutritious meal a day. He says government alone can’t address this challenge - which is why the department joins its valued partners this week to raise awareness about the nutrition gap low-income children face when schools close for the summer. National Summer Food Service Program week is a national push to promote USDA’s Summer Food Service Program and other initiatives designed to alleviate hunger during the summer months. Last year - USDA’s summer feeding programs provided 161-million meals - feeding approximately 3.5-million children on a typical summer day.
Vilsack says USDA’s summer feeding initiative supports programs that keep children active and engaged when school is out - reducing learning loss that often occurs during the summer months. He says they do all they can to ensure children get nutritious food year-round so they are ready to learn during the school year and have a greater chance to succeed. To ensure no child goes hungry this summer - USDA and its partners are redoubling their efforts to reach more eligible low-income children. USDA is issuing a national call to action for schools, communities and faith-based organizations across the country to increase the number of program sponsors and feeding sites. USDA is also providing intensive technical assistance to expand the reach of the program in five states with high levels of rural and urban food insecurity and/or reduced program participation. In addition - the Department is working with individuals, schools and community organizations to help connect families to summer meals.