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Feeding site visits punch up need for summer program


A cadre of people wed to the value of providing children with nutritious meals during summer months visited several Summer Food Service Program feeding sites throughout Memphis. Special to the Tri-State Defender

Hunger doesn’t take a break. Kids who need help getting the food they need during a school year don’t move beyond that need just because the academic year ends. That, in large measure, makes an argument for the Summer Food Service Program.

 Congressman Steve Cohen found just the spot to observe the benefits of the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program while visiting Glenview Community Center. (Courtesy photos)

On Wednesday, a cadre of people wed to the value of providing children with nutritious meals during summer months visited several Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) feeding sites throughout Memphis. In the group were Congressman Steve Cohen and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service Deputy Regional Administrator Erin Swanson-Hall.

Among the goals for the day was feeding more than 150 local children food and discussing the importance of the SFSP, which was created in 1968. At Glenview Community Center at 1141 South Barksdale, Cohen folded himself into a child-sized chair at a child-sized table in the course of his day’s work.

“This important program works to ensure that low-income children throughout Memphis do not go hungry during the summer months,” said Cohen.  “Throughout my Congressional career I have voted to support the Summer Food Service Program because no child should ever go hungry, and that is why I will continue to be a strong supporter of this crucial program.”

Swanson-Hall said millions of families struggle each summer to provide their children with nutritious meals when schools close.

“SFSP fills this gap by marshalling resources to curb food insecurity and end hunger for our nation’s children,” she said.

In addition to the visit to Glenview, the group made stops at the Orange Mound Community Center at 2572 Park Avenue, and the Bethel Labelle Community Center at 2698 Larose Ave.

Calvin Johnson, Interim Director for Nutrition Services at Memphis City Schools, and two representatives from the Tennessee Department of Human Services – Deputy Commissioner Shalonda Cawthon and Robert Matthews, Assistant Commissioner of Adult and Family Services – also participated.

Tennessee Department of Human Services Commissioner Raquel Hatter makes the case that for far too many children from low-income homes, school is traditionally the source for their most nutritious meal of the day.

“By supporting good nutrition habits at an early age and using the resources of the Summer Food program, we are offering balanced meals year round,” she said.  “Through these efforts we hope students gain nutritional stability and a solid foundation to make healthy food choices.”

The Food and Nutrition Service, an agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, administers SFSP at the federal level. State education agencies administer the program in most states. The program sponsored by MCS is administered by the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

Beginning this year, MCS started offering breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack or supper to all sites. The Sites have the option of choosing two of the four meals that are offered.  This summer, MCS provided meals to more than 400 approved sites in Memphis and Shelby County. During June, MCS averaged more than 24,000 meals daily.

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