District Administration August 2017 - 24
SOLVING SUMMER HUNGER
expect these parents to be able to provide
these meals for the children during the
summer?" Swartz says.
Schools across the country are bridging that gap with programs tailored to the
size and needs of their communities. Nevada's sprawling, 320,000-student Clark
County School District serves breakfast and lunch at 90 school buildings,
while Clinton City prepares meals in the
kitchen of the district's upper elementary
school and delivers to eight sites around
town, including day care centers and
church youth programs.
Colorado Springs School District
11, which enrolls about 28,000 students,
serves 34 sites, half of them with fooddelivery vans that set up shop at trailer
parks, apartment complexes and parks-
anywhere low-income children gather. "If
they can't come to us, we're going to go
to them," says Janine Russell, the district's
assistant food service director.
And in Toledo, Ohio, the local nonprofit Connecting Kids to Meals supplies
summer food to more than 100 sites,
including public schools in the city and
nearby towns. Schools turn to the organization because "we have the expertise,"
says its president, Wendi Huntley. "We
have a system that already works."
Profit is not a priority
Summer meals are funded through two
federal programs, the Summer Food Service Program and the National School
Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option, with different paperwork burdens
and per-meal payment rates. Both target
low-income children, but schools where
at least half the students qualify for free or
reduced-price meals can serve free summer food to any child who shows up.
Because summer participation is
far lower, districts say that after spending money for food, staff and advertising-plus gas for the trucks that deliver
to mobile stops-they don't make money
from their summer food programs. At
best, the per-meal rate the federal government supplies allows districts to break
even. "We've got kids who are hungry,
and that's what's important to us, and our
24 August 2017
START YOUR OWN SUMMER MEAL PROGRAM
* GET HELP: The agency that administers the program for your state-often
the state education department-has essential expertise.
* START EARLY: Paperwork and permissions will take longer than you think.
"Start in February if you're going to do something at the end of May/June,"
says Janine Russell, assistant food service director in Colorado Springs
School District 11.
* THINK SMALL: "Don't start at 50 sites-start with two or five and work your
way up," says Kammie Anderson, who coordinates the summer food program in Wichita Public Schools. "Don't take on more than you can handle."
* REACH OUT: Consult with other community groups that work with children
and families to figure out what's needed and where.
* SITE STRATEGICALLY: "If you offer it in a location that people don't have accessibility to, then you're not maximizing the reason for the program," says
Stuart Blount, superintendent of North Carolina's Clinton City Schools.
* MARKET CREATIVELY: Districts send flyers home in backpacks, take out
newspaper and radio ads, post information on their websites, and throw
colorful kickoff events to spread the news about free summer food. "It's
currently a program that's still underutilized," says Stephanie Joyce, national nutrition advisor at the nonprofit Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
"Anything that the schools can do to help get the word out is critical."
1. Washington, D.C.
2. New Mexico
43. West Virginia
4. New York
9. Rhode Island
10. South Carolina
Source: Food Research & Action Center, June 2016 report
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration August 2017
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