Congressman McGovern visits meal sites throughout the 2nd Congressional District to highlight Summer Food Service Program
Worcester, MA – July 21, 2017 – Congressman Jim McGovern led his 4th Annual Summer Food Rocks Tour throughout the 2nd Congressional District this past Friday to raise awareness about the USDA's Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The Summer Food Service Program is a federally-funded nutrition program that provides free meals to children ages 18 and under when school is not in session. In Massachusetts, the program is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) with support from the Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP) at Project Bread.
"Last week I was proud to host our fourth annual summer meals tour to raise awareness about how this program helps low-income students in Massachusetts and across the country get access to the healthy meals they need when school is not in session," Congressman McGovern said. "For millions of low-income students, summer break isn't as carefree as it should be. During the school year, they have access to reliable, healthy school breakfasts and school lunches. But, when school's out, these children – and their families – are often left scrambling to find enough to eat. In the richest country in the world, there's no excuse for any of our kids to go hungry. I am thankful to have so many strong partners at the USDA and here in Massachusetts to keep this program strong. Together, we're helping to ensure that all our students get the healthy meals they need to continue to learn and grow all year round."
Congressman McGovern was joined on the day-long tour by Siobhan O'Riordan and Eddie Ortega from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Northeast Region, Robert Leshin and Irene Sedlacko from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Noreen Kelly and Maura Ackerman from Project Bread, as well as many other state and local leaders.
The tour began at the Riverside Village housing complex in Leominster where State Representative Natalie Higgins helped Congressman McGovern pass out breakfast. State Representative Paul Mark then joined the Congressman in Greenfield to pass out snacks at the Oak Courts housing complex. As the Congressman wrapped up the tour in Worcester, State Senator Michael Moore and State Representative Mary Keefe were on hand to pass out meals at the Main South Club and the Shine Pool. As part of the tour, Congressman McGovern led roundtable discussions in Athol and Worcester with state and local leaders. The first discussion focused on the challenges of running and expanding summer feeding programs in rural areas and the other focused on the challenges of meeting the nutrition needs of teens in the summer.
"The Summer Food Rocks Tour is one of my favorite days," said Rob Leshin, Director of the Office for Food and Nutrition Programs at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. "It is great to see so many of our representatives and community partners recognize the important role the Summer Food Service Program plays in ensuring kids and teens are receiving the proper nutrition when school is out for the summer."
Summer meal sites are vital resources for the more than 400,000 children across Massachusetts that qualify for free or low-cost school meals during the school year. When school ends for the summer, these children lose access to school meals, often leading to the formation of unhealthy eating habits, fatigue, weight gain, and learning loss. This leaves many at a disadvantage compared to their peers when they to return to school in the fall. The meals and programming provided at SFSP sites help to ensure that children have continued access to nutritious food during the summer months and can return to school healthy and ready to learn.
"The sites we visited today, like many others across Massachusetts, go above and beyond reducing summer hunger," said Maura Ackerman, Assistant Director of Programs at Project Bread. "By offering a variety of educational and recreational programming, these sites keep kids active and engaged throughout the summer months."
This summer the USDA plans to serve more than 200 million free meals to children 18 years and under at approved SFSP sites across the country. Most SFSP sites open by July 6 and all run through mid-August. Parents, guardians, and youth can find a complete list of programs across the state in one of the following ways:
About the Child Nutrition Outreach Program
The Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP) works to increase participation in two underutilized federal child nutrition programs, the National School Breakfast Program and the Summer Food Service Program. Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) and administered by Project Bread, CNOP has been supporting school nutrition directors, superintendents, and other school personnel since 1994. For more information, visit www.meals4kids.org.
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