Once again this summer, Partners HealthCare helped to provide nutritious meals to thousands of low-income children throughout Massachusetts. Working in partnership with Project Bread and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP), Partners awarded $35,000 to help support the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in communities throughout Massachusetts.
The SFSP is a federally funded, state administered and locally operated nutrition program that provides meals at no cost to youth 18 and under in income eligible areas throughout the summer months.
During the school year, more than 400,000 children in Massachusetts rely on free or reduce price school meals. When school is out for the summer, students lose access to these meals and families often struggle to absorb the additional meal costs. This puts students at risk for hunger, malnutrition and increased summer learning loss. The SFSP is designed to fill this meal gap, providing meals that meet federal nutrition standards in safe, pre-approved areas such as schools, YMCAs, and churches. Meals are typically served alongside enrichment activities that keep children learning and engaged so they can return to school both well nourished and ready to learn.
We are committed to addressing all of the social factors, including hunger, that helps determine a family’s health.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual report on food security, roughly one in ten households in Massachusetts struggled at some point in 2014 to provide food for their families—a number that is down from 10.6 percent in 2013. And while there is reason to celebrate this improvement, the same report also found that 4 percent of the state’s poorest citizens face “very low food security”, or a frequent lack of access to food—a figure unchanged from 2013. On an average day this summer, more than 60,000 children will enjoy a healthy breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner at one or more of the approximately 1,000 summer meal sites across the Commonwealth.
Partners HealthCare recognizes the negative implications of food insecurity on individual and community health. Matt Fishman, Vice President for Community Health at Partners HealthCare, said, “We are committed to addressing all of the social factors, including hunger, that helps determine a family’s health,” Fishman continued, “This program helps keep thousands of children and their families well-nourished during the busy summer months. We are grateful to be part of a program that positively impacts the health of people living in the communities we serve.” We are also thankful to leaders like Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) who joined us this summer in her district at the Framingham YMCA.
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