(BOSTON– June 30, 2016) Partners HealthCare is helping to provide nutritious meals to thousands of low-income children throughout Massachusetts this upcoming summer. Working in partnership with Project Bread and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP), Partners is awarding $35,000 to help support the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in communities throughout Massachusetts. The SFSP is a federally funded, state administered and locally operated nutrition program that provides meals at no cost to youth 18 and under in income eligible areas throughout the summer months.
During the school year, more than 400,000 children in Massachusetts rely on free or reduce price school meals. When school is out for the summer, students lose access to these meals and families often struggle to absorb the additional meal costs. This puts students at risk for hunger, malnutrition and increased summer learning loss. The SFSP is designed to fill this meal gap, providing meals that meet federal nutrition standards in safe, pre-approved areas such as schools, YMCAs, and churches. Meals are typically served alongside enrichment activities that keep children learning and engaged so they can return to school both well-nourished and ready to learn.
On an average day this summer, more than 60,000 children will enjoy a healthy breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner at one or more of the approximately 1,000 summer meal sites across the Commonwealth. “The meals provided by the Summer Food Service Program do more than nourish kids—they, in many ways, nourish our communities,” said Ellen Parker, executive director at Project Bread. “Across the state, schools, community groups and partners such as Partners HealthCare are coming together to end childhood food insecurity. We are so thankful for Partners HealthCare’s continued support of our work and communities.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual report on food security, roughly one in ten households in Massachusetts struggled at some point in 2014 to provide food for their families—a number that is down from 10.6 percent in 2013. And while there is reason to celebrate this improvement, the same report also found that 4 percent of the state’s poorest citizens face “very low food security”, or a frequent lack of access to food—a figure unchanged from 2013.
Partners HealthCare recognizes the negative implications of food insecurity on individual and community health. Matt Fishman, Vice President for Community Health at Partners HealthCare, said, “We are committed to addressing all of the social factors, including hunger, that helps determine a family’s health,” Fishman continued, “This program helps keep thousands of children and their families well-nourished during the busy summer months. We are grateful to be part of a program that positively impacts the health of people living in the communities we serve.”
Most SFSP sites open by July 1st and run until mid-August. Parents, guardians, and teens can get a complete list of programs across the state by calling Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 or by going to www.meals4kids.org. Parents, guardians and teens can also download the “SummerEats” mobile app for free on iPhone and Android or send a text to our Text 4 Food number at 617-863-6325 to find the nearest SFSP sites. To learn more about the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), you can visit www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp/summer-food-service-program.
About Partners HealthCare
Partners HealthCare is an integrated health system founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to its two academic medical centers, the Partners system includes community and specialty hospitals, a managed care organization, community health centers, a physician network, home health and long-term care services, and other health-related entities. Partners is one of the nation’s leading biomedical research organizations and a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Partners HealthCare is a non-profit organization.
About Partners Community Health
Partners Community Health leads the organization-wide commitment to improve the health and wellbeing of low-income and vulnerable populations. Our commitment to the community is the largest of any health care provider in Massachusetts, representing over 80 programs benefiting 115,000 people. Partners Community Health works closely with Partners hospitals, 21 licensed and affiliated community health centers serving more than 350,000 patients, and local organizations to enhance health care access for patients, increase economic opportunity, and improve the health of communities through prevention initiatives and by addressing longstanding health disparities.
About Project Bread
Project Bread is the only statewide anti-hunger organization committed to providing people of all ages, cultures, and walks of life with sustainable, reliable access to nutritious food. From community-based meal programs, to early childhood and school nutrition initiatives, to improved access to farm-to-table resources, Project Bread approaches hunger as a complex problem with multiple solutions. With funds raised through The Walk for Hunger and other sources, Project Bread pioneers innovative initiatives and supports effective programs to eradicate hunger in our state. For more information, visit www.projectbread.org, www.facebook.com/projectbread, or www.twitter.com/projectbreadr.