Iowa sponsors needed to help prevent child hunger in the summer
DES MOINES – In an effort to head off hunger, the Iowa Department of Education is seeking sponsors for a federally funded program that provides nutritious meals or snacks to children in low-income areas of the state during the summer months.
Nearly 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 through the Iowa Department of Education, is designed to fill that gap. The program utilizes sponsors to manage summer meal services.
Typical sponsors include public and nonpublic 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, the 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 addition, summer food program sponsors across the state are interested in partnering with other organizations to help with summer meal programs in the following ways:
- Organizations that have a connection to families that can help spread the message about available site locations
- Organizations with summer child-serving activities that are interested in adding a meal service without the administrative and management responsibilities of sponsorship
- Organizations (for example, public libraries) that can provide activities at current meal sites
- Organizations that have access to volunteers who can help serve meals, supervise children, or provide activities at meal sites
- Organizations that can assist with providing transportation for children to and from meal sites
In 2017, the summer food service program sponsors served 1,300,244 meals and snacks with a June average of 25,340 per day, representing a 5.4 percent increase from 2016. With the participation trend increasing, the need for program sponsors, site locations, and partner organizations is crucial to meeting this need for families.