By Marybeth Laisure, Center Civil Justice
It’s time to think about summer…well, at least summer meals! I know there is still 4 feet of snow on the ground, below 20 degree temperatures, but…now is the time for potential sponsors to think about getting their applications into the state to serve summer meals. School is about to end in several months, and many of these children who receive a free and reduced-priced lunch may not have access to a healthy lunch on a daily basis.
Most of us cannot imagine what it would be like to go hungry, yet in Michigan it happens every day to our children. Currently, 25 percent of Michigan’s children live in poverty and their families struggle with hunger every day. In the summer of 2013, 3,3890,484 meals were served to children - a 9 percent increase over 2012. That represents in dollars, $9,839,100 coming into the state.
Federal Child Nutrition programs such as the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a food program that provides funding for meals and snacks served to children age 18 and younger during the summer months. These programs were designed so that low-income children have access to meals that they rely on during the school year.
A sponsor can feed children at numerous sites throughout their community. Sites can include schools, community centers, YMCA’s, Boys & Girls Clubs, parks, faith-based organizations, low-income housing and many other places where children go for activities during the summer. A site must be located where at least half of the children in the geographic area are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, or where at least 50 percent of the children participating in the program are individually determined to be free or reduced-price eligible.
The SFSP grant is administered by the Michigan Department of Education and will be available on-line beginning March 1st, trainings are scheduled during the months of March and April and the application is due to the Michigan Department of Education by May 1st.
If you are interest in becoming a sponsor or site, or would just like more information about the Summer meals program, please contact Marybeth Laisure, Child Nutrition Program Coordinator for the Center for Civil Justice at: firstname.lastname@example.org (989) 545-96571. Or contact the Michigan Department of Education at www.michigan.gov/sfsp.