GAITHERSBURG, Md., June 2, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sodexo, the world leader in Quality of Life Services, joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service today in announcing free summer meal programs open to children ages 18 years and under. USDA discussed the challenges of connecting children with meals during the summer months and shared how families can find free programs in their community. Sodexo's Feeding Our Future program, now in 23 U.S. cities and 9 cities in Canada, was offered as a best practice of how businesses can engage in public-private partnerships as a way to fight hunger.
According to the USDA, during the school year, more than 22 million kids receive free and reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program. But when school lets out for the summer, only 3.8 million participate in USDA's summer meals programs. Feeding Our Future®, an 8 to 12 week summer feeding program started by Sodexo in 1997, has served 4.5 million free summer meals and exemplifies one effort that works to fill the gap. Sodexo engages employee volunteers and partners with community organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, local hunger relief organizations as well as clients and suppliers to provide free meals to children.
"The sad fact is that nearly one in five children in America lives in a household that struggles to put food on the table," said Steve Cox, vice president of public relations, North America, Sodexo. "That's 15 million American children who are at risk of hunger every day in American. It's 17.4 million households struggling provide breakfast, lunch and dinner to their kids."
Cox added public-private partnerships are the key to solving the issue of hunger. Best practices demonstrate that the most successful programs are built on collaboration and partnerships – with other businesses, public entities, nonprofits and individual efforts. It is about businesses engaging not only their employees, but external stakeholders as well like supply chain partners.
WHERE TO FIND MEALS
The USDA provides a number of resources for identifying summer meal programs in local communities. They include:
- Contact any community based organization (i.e. YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs or faith-based organizations) about participating summer meal programs
- Call the National Hunger Hotline at 866-3HUNGRY (866-348-6479) of for the same information in Spanish, call 877-8HAMBRE (877-842-6273)
- Visit the USDA's Summer Meals Rock website for summer meal sites as well as information on how to help fight hunger.
Sodexo is a leading provider of facilities management and food service operations to nearly 500 school districts across North America. Every day it serves more than 2 million meals per day to students when school is in session. In addition to hunger relief efforts like Feeding Our Future, Sodexo's Stop Hunger Initiatives include providing in excess of 12,000 free food backpacks per week during the school year and working alongside food recovery partners where in 2015 it helped rescue and donate 600,000 pounds of food.
Sodexo delivers more than 100 services across North America that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life. The global Fortune 500 company is a leader in delivering sustainable, integrated facilities management and foodservice operations.
Learn more about the company at its corporate blog, Sodexo Insights.
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