In an effort to head off hunger, the Iowa Department of Education is seeking sponsors for a federally funded program that provides nutritious breakfast, lunch, and dinner or snacks to children in low-income areas during the summer months.
About 90 percent of the more than 200,000 Iowa students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals during the school year don’t have school-sponsored meal programs to turn to when classes let out for summer break. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, which is administered by the Iowa Department of Education, is designed to fill that gap.
Typical sponsors include public and private nonprofit schools, local government agencies, and private nonprofit organizations with serving sites located in schools, churches, community centers, parks, libraries, housing complexes, or camps.
To qualify as a site, a facility must be either located in a low-income neighborhood where at least 50 percent of the children are eligible for free and reduced-price meals or must serve primarily low-income children.
In 2015, Iowa Summer Food Service Program sponsors served 1,173,931 meals and snacks to children across the state, feeding approximately 21,000 children on a typical summer day. That represents a 21 percent increase over the previous summer, but still falls short of goals.
For more information, visit the Iowa Department of Education’s website. A free informational webinar will be held on Thursday, Feb. 18, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Webinar registration is available online.