Helping Kids Eat Healthy All Summerlong

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July 29, 2019 By: Abigail Reeth Category: Partner News

In her role as the nutrition services supervisor for Roseville Area Schools, Angela Richey enjoys watching students in the meal line during summer programming. “I see them getting excited and asking what’s for lunch,” she said. Why are these kids so excited? They know they can easily access free, nutritious summer meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

Over the past four summers, Richey has coordinated SFSP meal distributions at Roseville Area Schools. This summer, there are seven sites in Roseville, Minn., where children ages 18 and younger or disabled individuals under 21 years old can access free meals. These SFSP locations serve approximately 1,000 breakfasts and 1,000 lunches each day! Richey believes that may surprise some people. “We have always had a summer meals program here,” Richey said. “Yet, I know that in our community there is a hidden level of poverty.”

During the schoolyear, approximately 48 percent of students in Roseville Area Schools rely on free or reduced-price meals. When schools close for the summer, these students can struggle to find healthy, well-balanced meals. Studies have shown that when kids must feed themselves over the summer, they often eat lower-quality foods that lead to unhealthy weight gain. Richey explained that summer meals at Roseville Area Schools are “making sure that kids have all the nutrients they need to support healthy growth.”

Sustainable Meal Sites

Additionally, Roseville Area Schools are working to reduce the leftover waste from their SFSP meals. “We’re really happy to partner with Second Harvest Heartland this summer to make sure that all the food that would normally go to waste is going on to serve community shelters,” Richey explained. By joining with Second Harvest Heartland, SFSP sites can “make sure that food isn’t wasted and that food that’s edible by humans is actually going to humans.”

Richey is happy that kids can experience “the carefree feeling that comes with knowing that two meals a day will be provided by the school.” What’s more, children can access SFSP meals regardless of their economic background, so they don’t feel stigmatized. “It’s a great program in that it is universally free to everyone under 18,” Richey said. “It really equals the playing field for our kiddos.”

Richey is a firsthand witness to the positive results of the free summer meal program for kids. “We’re not seeing fear. We’re not seeing hunger. We’re seeing children who are well fed and able to engage in the summer programming.”

Find a Free Summer Meal

Roseville Area Schools are some of the many Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sites across Minnesota. There are lots of ways to find a nearby SFSP site:

  • Text “food” to 877-877
  • Download the Summer Eats Minnesota App from the app store
  • Use the USDA’s mapping tool

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