Public-Private Partnership Aims to Connect More Kids to Nutrition Programs and End Childhood Hunger in Virginia by 2015
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today joined Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and No Kid Hungry National Campaign spokesperson Jeff Bridges to launch the Virginia No Kid Hungry Campaign, a public-private partnership that will work to connect Virginia's children and teens to school breakfast and child care nutrition programs, including summer meals programs. As many schools begin their summer recess, Vilsack highlighted the importance of USDA's Summer Food Service Program to help children get the nutrition they need to learn, play, and grow throughout the summer months when they are out of school.
"The health and wellbeing of our nation is dependent on the health of our children, and no child should ever have to go hungry," said Vilsack. "USDA works to provide low-income kids nutritious meals during the school year and in the summer so they can learn, grow, and reach their full potential. We know that our strength comes from our partnerships, and it will take everyone--government agencies, educators, elected officials, corporations, advocates and community leaders--to ensure that our children have a healthy start in life."
The campaign is an example of the strength of public-private partnerships that will work to connect Virginia's more than 1.8 million children and teens to school breakfast and child care nutrition programs. More than 218,000 children and teens in Virginia face hunger, and studies have shown that during the summer, children are at an even higher risk for both hunger and obesity because they lose access to regular, nutritious school meals. The Virginia Summer Meals for Kids Program, funded by the USDA, provides children free summer meals at hundreds of sites across the Commonwealth. However, more than 80 percent of those eligible for free and reduced-price school meals who can get free summer meals, don't participate.
In 2009, over 50 million individuals in the United States, or 16.6 percent of the population, lived in food insecure households. Children are most at risk. During the same time frame, over 17 million children lived in food insecure households. These homes had difficulty providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources at some time during the year. The anti-hunger initiatives announced today, along with the Stakeholder Guide to Ending Childhood Hunger recently published on USDA's Food and Nutrition Service website, are all tools to help individuals and families put food on the table.
As of October 1, 2010, USDA passed administration of Virginia's SFSP to the Virginia Department of Health's (VDH) division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Food Programs (NuPAFP). SFSP provides federal funding to eligible sponsor organizations to provide meals and snacks to lower income children during the summer months when school is not in session. SFSP sponsor organizations can be a school, camp, governmental entity, private non-profit organization, or a college participating in the National Youth Sports Program. Nationally, SFSP serves 2 million children a day.
Improving child nutrition is also a focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that was signed by President Obama on December 13, 2010. This legislation reauthorizes USDA'S child nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, which serves nearly 32 million children each day. It will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative. To learn more, visit www.LetsMove.gov.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the child nutrition programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.