Denver Nuggets And USDA Undersecretary Concannon Kick Off Summer Meals Program For Kids
Free Summer Meals Served at 400 Sites Across Colorado
DENVER, June 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Denver Nuggets Forward Wilson Chandler, Strength and Conditioning Coach Steve Hess, SuperMascot Rocky and members of the Denver Nuggets Dance Team join USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon, celebrity chef Mark DeNittis and Mayors DiTullio, Hancock and Stephens together with Share Our Strength, Hunger Free Colorado, the Office of Governor John Hickenlooper, Walmart and a diverse group of elected officials, community organizations and state agencies to kick off the Colorado No Kid Hungry® campaign’s efforts to connect thousands of kids to the Summer Food Service Program in Colorado. The campaign will help connect more area kids and teens to free summer meals programs by raising awareness about the programs and making it easier for families to get to a summer meals site.
“For many kids, summertime means food, friends and fun. For families who count on school breakfast and lunch, however, the summer months can be stressful and family food budgets have to be stretched even further,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “This program provides a safe place for children to eat free healthy meals so they can continue to thrive all year long.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers free summer meals to all kids aged 18 years and younger across Colorado. But of the more than 220,000 kids in the state who ate a free or reduced-price school lunch, less than 24,000 ate a free summer meal in June 2011. USDA is officially sponsoring the national kick off of the Summer Food Service Program this week with events across the country.
“Summer meals programs provide kids the fuel they need to continue to learn and grow in the summer,” said Denver Nuggets Strength and Conditioning Coach Steve Hess. “As an athlete, I know how important it is to stay nourished to stay at the top of my game and that’s why I support this important program for kids.”
“We must do all we can to ensure that children get nutritious food during the summer months so that they are ready to learn during the school year,” said USDA Undersecretary, Kevin Concannon. “We are working, with the help of individuals, schools, and community organizations in Colorado and across the country, to let children know about the program and where the meal sites are in their community.”
Lack of awareness about the program, stigma, getting kids to a site that is near them and parents trust are just a few of the barriers families face with regard to the free summer meals programs according to recent focus groups in Denver, conducted by Share Our Strength.
“We hear from folks every day about their struggles to feed their families. No kids should be without food this summer – once kids come to a meal site and see the food and fun they’ll be back! It’s a great program,” says Kathy Underhill, Executive Director of Hunger Free Colorado.
Many summer meals sites, which are registered with the USDA, offer fun learning and recreational activities so kids and teens can eat a healthy meal while staying active and spending time with friends. Program details:
- Meals are FREE to children and teens ages 18 and younger who come to a summer meals site
- Food served follows USDA nutrition guidelines and meals are paid for by the USDA
- Summer meals sites may be schools, churches, community centers and other safe, supervised places
- Many sites offer learning and recreational activities in which kids of all ages can participate, so they can get a healthy meal and take part in activities offered
- Parents don’t need to apply to the program or show proof of income to get a free summer meal for their kids. They can just bring their child to a summer meals site in their community; sites are located in areas where at least 50 percent of kids are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals
- Mobile sites operate in Colorado, delivering food to parks, apartment complexes, mobile home parks and other areas
“Summer meals programs are more important than ever before as families are struggling to make ends meet. Families also face the stress of providing safe, supervised and affordable places for kids and teens to socialize, play and continue to learn during the summer,” said Summer Gathercole, Colorado Director for Share Our Strength, the national organization working to end childhood hunger.
This summer, the Colorado No Kid Hungry campaign will be raising awareness about free summer meals through advertising on billboards, in newspapers and on the radio, and will be in the community handing out materials to families and organizations. These efforts promote the website, phone number and text campaign so families can find a site in their community. Last year in Colorado, the Colorado No Kid Hungry campaign increased the number of summer food sites from 315 to 392 which helped increase number of meals served by more than 25 percent.
The Colorado No Kid Hungry campaign is generously sponsored by lead sponsor Walmart and is part of Share Our Strength’s national No Kid Hungry campaign.
“Walmart is proud to partner with Colorado’s No Kid Hungry campaign to ensure that children are fed through the summer months,” said Joshua Phair, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Walmart’s Mountain Division, “For families who rely on meals provided at school during the academic year, this is an invaluable resource. Programs like this are critical in the fight to end hunger.”
Summertime should be a stress-free time for parents and kids, full of food, friends and fun. Free summer meals can help. Families can learn more or find a site near them by going to www.summerfoodcolorado.org, calling 1-855-855-4626 or texting “FOOD” to 720-HFC-EAT5.
About Hunger Free Colorado: Visit www.hungerfreecolorado.org to learn more.
Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign: Go to Strength.org to learn more.
SOURCE Share Our Strength