USDA Expands $500 Million Summer Meals Programs to Sites Outside of School

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the expansion of its summer meal programs beyond the $500 million of taxpayer dollars used to pay for last year’s effort, with a goal of serving an unprecedented 200 million meals to “children” 18 or younger, not only on school campuses, but at other sites, including at home.

“We are deeply committed to ensuring that all Americans, in rural and urban areas, have access to a healthy diet whether at home or at school,” Under Secretary of Agriculture Kevin Concannon said in a press release issued by USDA last month. “These public-private partnerships are key to galvanizing interest in combating hunger.

“We need more community partners to serve as sponsors or to help run sites where young people can easily go for a healthy meal or snack, as well as for physical and enrichment activities,” Concannon said.

Only 3.8 million of the more than 21 million low-income children eligible for a free or reduced priced meal took part in last year’s summer food program, according to the agency.

A USDA organizational chart shows that the federal government will serve breakfast and lunch to children at “schools, camps, churches, community centers, housing projects, libraries, migrant centers, parks, playgrounds, pools, and other public sites where children gather.”