ANN ARBOR – More than 6,040 children in Washtenaw County are food-insecure, meaning they do not have consistent access to enough affordable, nutritious food, according to Feeding America National Food Insecurity Projections.
What summer break from school means for these students and their families is the total loss of free and reduced price school meals.
In an effort to address the issue, Food Gatherers will sponsor 19 Summer Food Service Program sites for Washtenaw County children from June 14-August 26.
The 2021 SFSP is offered to residents in partnership with the Michigan Department of Education and support from Toyota Research & Development, Milk Means More, Jon and Ashley Oberheide and Blue Cross Complete of Michigan.
“For many people, summer is a time of fun and relaxation, but for others it is a time of panic. Many families are unsure of how they will pay for food for their children,” Food Gatherers Community Food Programs Coordinator LeRonica Roberts said in release. “This year, many more families continue to experience reduced or lost income as a result of the pandemic.
“The SFSP makes it easy for families to safely pick up and take home meals so that parents can focus on other important things and not worry where their children’s next meal will come from.”
Children who are still developing and growing experience detrimental impacts from chronic hunger. Nutrition-based programs like SFSP that are run by the government play a critical role in encouraging healthy eating.
The SFSP provides children with free nutritious meals throughout the summer months.
In response to public health guidelines during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, sites will offer meals to-go for children. Each week, the sites will be distributing free breakfasts and lunches and will provide each child with 14 meals a week.
Children do not need to be present at pick up; parents or guardians may pick up food.
To see the locations of the free meal sites, visit www.foodgatherers.org/summerfood. Families in need of food can also text FOOD to 877-877.
Free meals will be available to children ages 18 and under, or individuals up to 26 years of age who are enrolled in a state-recognized educational program or local public educational agency.
For more information about Food Gatherers, visit www.foodgatherers.org.