End of school means end of meals for many children. More than 300 Ys across the nation are offering summer food programs to provide 5 million healthy meals to 100,000 children.
CHICAGO, June 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- As final school bells ring and students across the nation start their summer vacations, more than 21 million children will be at risk of hunger as the free or reduced-cost breakfasts and lunches they received during the regular school year are no longer available. That's why YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) is partnering with the Walmart Foundation to fight child hunger in communities by expanding participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which provides free meals to children aged 18 and under while school is out. More than 300 Ys nationwide will offer summer food programs and aim to serve 5 million healthy meals and snacks to 100,000 children.
Last year, only one in seven children who received free or reduced-cost meals during the school year were served summer meals through SFSP, according to the Food Research and Action Center. In an effort to ensure that children continue to receive proper nutrition when out of school, and to provide relief to struggling families, Ys will serve up to two meals a day in their summer food programs. In most cases Ys will provide recreational and learning activities.
"More than 16 million children in this country live in households that struggle to put food on the table," said Neil Nicoll, president and CEO of Y-USA. "At the Y, we are focused on nurturing the potential of every child. We are deepening our commitment to address hunger so that more of our most vulnerable children will be well-nourished, active and energized year-round."
As a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y has long helped to address hunger in communities through local summer food programs. With the growing need around food assistance, Y-USA has worked with the Walmart Foundation the past two years to elevate this issue nationally and expand summer food programs to reach more children in need.
"At Walmart, we recognize the need to support the development of our nation's youth," said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation. "We know that providing access to healthy meals during the summer months will enable students to return to school healthy, prepared and ready to succeed. By working closely with the Y, we can help kids have better summers and, ultimately, better lives."
The YMCA's summer food program is part of the Walmart Foundation's Summer Giving Campaign, which has committed more than $20 million in grants to expand nutrition, learning and employment programs for elementary, middle and high school students in more than 350 communities. As part of the partnership, the Walmart Foundation contributed a $5 million grant to help the Y expand and/or implement the summer food program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program's (CACFP) Afterschool Meal Program in more Ys for the 2012-2013 school year.
Beginning fall 2012, the Y will continue its hunger relief efforts beyond the summer by increasing the number of its afterschool programs providing healthy meals and snacks to children through CACFP, which will help Ys feed school-aged children during the week, on weekends and school vacations. With the Walmart Foundation's support, the Y estimates it will provide 3 million nutritious meals and snacks during the school year, for a total of 8 million meals and snacks throughout the year to ensure kids have the energy and nutrition they need to learn, grow and thrive.
According to the 2012 YMCA's Family Health Snapshot, a Y-commissioned survey of more than 1,600 U.S. parents with children aged 5 to 12, only 12 percent of children eat at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables daily, meaning the majority of children are lacking the nutritional value recommended for healthy growth and development. The Y's summer and afterschool meal programs will help to fill this gap while also implementing healthy eating and physical activity standards that ensure children are eating the right foods and getting enough exercise while participating in Y programs.
Help the Y Raise Awareness
The need to provide healthy meals to children over the summer is critical, as more families struggle with the issue of hunger. To help generate awareness, please direct families in need to the YMCA's summer food program; information is available at ymca.net/summer-food-program. The landing page will also feature a "blog tour" that provides readers with exclusive field reports from Ys across the nation offering the summer food program.
About the Y
The Y is one of the nation's leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation's health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. ymca.net
About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support initiatives that are helping people live better around the globe. In May 2010, Walmart and its Foundation made a historic pledge of $2 billion through 2015 to fight hunger in the U.S. The Walmart Foundation also supports education, workforce development, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness initiatives. To learn more, visit www.walmartfoundation.org.
SOURCE YMCA of the USA