When the final bell rings to signify the start of summer break, most kids joyfully bound out of the classroom planning their months of freedom and fun. Pool days, family vacations, exploring the outdoors, hours of video game or movie marathons – this is what many kids have to look forward to during the summer months. Unfortunately, there are also children who are filled with dread at the sound of that final bell. For these students, summer means hunger. Without their free or reduced-price lunch and breakfast provided at school, they face hunger and the challenges and repercussions of food insecurity.
According to Feeding America, 20% of food-insecure children live in households that earn too much to qualify for most federal nutrition assistance and rely on charitable organizations to make ends meet.
To combat this issue, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula has become a registered USDA Summer Food Service Program. All 13 Clubs, as well as additional locations sponsored through BGCA, will be serving meals on a first come, first served basis to any child up to 18 years of age. If you or someone you know is facing hunger or need a small amount of assistance to make ends meet, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula is a resource open to the community.
Throughout the school year, BGCVP provides a free meal to all members at qualifying locations through our EatSMART program. EatSMART is also a USDA funded program that provides access to food for the youth who need it most. This year we have decided to expand EatSMART to all community children to combat summer hunger and food scarcity. “Our mission is to serve all young people, especially those who need us most, so we felt it was our responsibility to give access to any hungry child, not just our Club members,” said Hal Smith, President & CEO.
Membership at a Boys & Girls Club is not required to receive meals through the EatSMART Summer Food Service program, but they are available on a first come, first served basis. The chart below shows the locations and times that meals are available. In addition to these “open” sites that serve any child 18 years of age or younger, BGCVP is also hosting feeding sites at additional locations such as the YMCA.
The YMCA locations are not considered “open” sites by USDA regulations. Membership or registration at the YMCA is not required, but other requirements must be met to be eligible for the meals. To be eligible to receive free meals at a residential or non-residential camp (such as YMCA), children must meet the income guidelines for reduced-price meals in the National School Lunch Program. Children who are part of households that receive Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) benefits or benefits under the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reserves (FDPIR), or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) are automatically eligible to receive free meals.
The 2017 Summer Food Service Program will take place June 19-August 25, 2017. Meals will be provided to all children without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service. Meals will be provided on a first come, first served basis.
Please share this service with anyone you may know in need of lunch and snack this summer!
Boys & Girls Clubs