As the school year ends across the country and summer approaches, summer meals are critical in the lives of millions of our nation’s youth, whose risk for food insecurity increases during the summer months when they no longer have access to the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs (NSLP).
Summer meal programs, including the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option within the NSLP, present the opportunity to help alleviate summertime food insecurity and positively impact children’s growth and development by offering nutritious meals and encouraging children to develop healthy habits at a young age.
USDA, the Center for Food Safety in Child Nutrition Programs, and the Institute of Child Nutrition, will provide the Summer Meals Food Safety Kit to site operators as an essential tool to help ensure the safety of summer meals.
FNS’s Office of Food Safety created the kit to promote and support food safety practices. The resource focuses on practicing good personal hygiene, as well as checking and documenting food temperatures. It also details proper cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and utensils, while emphasizing the importance of proper handwashing. The kits have also been designed with resources specific to the program location since sites can be hosted at schools, community and recreation centers, parks, churches or any other area where a need has been identified.
FNS has provided states with more than 23,000 kits to date. Upon request, kits have been provided to state agencies for distribution to SFSP sponsors, prompting one state agency official to share, “I just wanted to say I really appreciated having these kits as a resource for my sponsors.” SFSP food safety kits can be requested from your State Agency contacts.
Summer Meal Programs ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. This summer, USDA plans to serve roughly 3.8 million children each day at approved summer meals sites – all the more reason to focus on food safety.