ANN ARBOR – In Washtenaw County, more than 6,040 children are food-insecure, meaning they do not have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food (Feeding America National Food Insecurity Projections: March 2021 Release). When school is out for the summer, these students and their families lose access to an important source of food – free and reduced price school meals.
In an effort to bridge the meal gap for children during the summer months, Food Gatherers will sponsor 19 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sites for children in Washtenaw County from June 14th through August 26th. The 2021 SFSP is offered in partnership with the Michigan Department of Education and support from Toyota Research & Development, Jon and Ashley Oberheide, Milk Means More, and Blue Cross Complete of Michigan.
“For many people, summer is a time of fun and relaxation, but for others it is a time of panic. Many families are unsure of how they will pay for food for their children,” says LeRonica Roberts, Food Gatherers Community Food Programs Coordinator. “This year, many more families continue to experience reduced or lost income as a result of the pandemic. The SFSP makes it easy for families to safely pick up and take home meals so that parents can focus on other important things and not worry where their children’s next meal will come from.”
Chronic hunger has an especially detrimental impact on children who are still growing and developing. Government nutrition-based programs, such as the SFSP, play an important role in promoting lifelong healthy eating. The SFSP is carefully designed to fill the nutrition gap during summer months by providing children with free nutritious meals.
This summer, in response to public health guidelines, meal sites will offer non-congregate, to-go meals to children. Each week, sites will distribute bundles of free, to-go meals (breakfast and lunch) to provide 14 meals/week for each child. Parents/guardians may pick up food, children do not need to be present.
The locations of free meal sites will be posted on Food Gatherers’ website HERE. Families seeking food can also text FOOD to 877-877.
Free meals will be available to children 18 years of age and under or persons up to 26 years of age who are enrolled in an educational program that is recognized by a state or local public educational agency. The meals will be provided without regard to race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service.
About Food Gatherers
Food Gatherers’ mission is to alleviate hunger and eliminate its root causes in Washtenaw County. The food bank and food rescue program for the county, we distributed 7.8 million pounds of food to more than 170 non-profit programs serving adults, seniors and children last year. For a list of our partner programs or to learn how you can become involved in the fight against hunger locally, please visit www.foodgatherers.org or call 734-761-2796.