Summer is a time for children to explore and discover, create memories, and gain life experience outside the classroom. Unfortunately for many families, summer brings uncertainty, as students experience food insecurity and stay home due to lack of affordable enrichment activities.
With summer in full swing, millions of children across the country who normally rely on school meals lack access to the nutritious foods they need and the learning and enrichment that schools provide. The dairy community can make a positive impact by supporting the USDA Summer Food Service Program.
The free USDA Summer Food Service Program provides children with engaging enrichment activities and nutritious foods, like dairy products, that help them grow, play, and thrive while school is out. While the program is designed to be easy to access, with no eligibility or enrollment paperwork required, there continues to be limited awareness on where to find free summer meals.
This program, along with other federal nutrition assistance programs designed to boost access to nutritious foods, including nutrient-rich dairy, provides a critical safety net for underserved and marginalized communities. This is especially important during childhood, since nutrition and high-quality foods like milk and dairy can positively impact lifelong health. And while access to nutritious foods is important, nutrition education also plays a critical role to ensuring children are supported to grow healthfully and reach their full potential.
That’s why Dairy Council of California offers nutrition education resources — including the newly created Taste and Teach lesson born out of a partnership between Dairy Council of California and California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom — to enrich meal programs.
Dairy farmers already play an important role in elevating health through the production of dairy foods. This good work can be further amplified by also supporting the USDA Summer Food Service Program and efforts to pair nutrition education with access to nutritious foods. Help families connect with local meals through the Summer Site Finder and visit HealthyEating.org/SummerMeals for other ways to advocate for summer meals and nutrition education.
Summertime is just a short season, but access to healthy meals and nutrition education sets children up for lifelong success. Join us as we continue to elevate the health of children and families through the pursuit of lifelong healthy eating habits. To learn more, visit HealthyEating.org/Join.