It's Friday and my first full week is drawing to an end! It has been filled with meetings, excellent conversations, reading, exploring the Salem and Roanoke, VA areas, in addition to continuing to learn the inner workings of the Feeding America Southwest Virginia food bank. Along with participating in all of these varying activities I also had the chance to experience a Hunger Study as mentioned in my previous post and also take part in site training for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) for children. Now again, just as I explained the Hunger in America 2014 study, let me explain this excellent program as well.
When school is in session food insecure children have access to free or reduced price breakfast and lunch programs, as well as after school programs that provide meals and snacks. The Summer Food Service Program was established to ensure that food insecure children continue to receive nutritious meals during the summer break. Free meals that meet Federal nutrition guidelines are provided to all children at approved SFSP sites in areas with significant concentrations of food insecure children. In order for a site to be eligible to participate in the program it must be located in a school attendance area where 50 % or more of the children residing in the area are eligible for free or reduced price school meals. These programs across the southwest Virginia area are all about feeding kids, but the sites also include programming to provide an educational aspect for the kids, whether it be learning technology in a computer lab, making crafts, or going on field trips. This added benefit provides an avenue for the children to learn more about themselves and others through educational activities in addition to being fed a healthy meal.
In my time with FASWVA this summer I am focusing the majority of my attention to these programs through training the SFSP sites then returning to monitor and complete a review of the sites to make sure that they are following specific guidelines set by the USDA and Feeding America. Now, I can imagine from my explanation that this doesn't sound like the most exciting position as it may seem that I will just be filling out large stacks of paperwork. Quite the contrary - I am very excited to be able to work with these sites and interact with the children! One site that I visited yesterday was the Summer Enrichment Program at a local church in the Roanoke area. The enrichment program is run by volunteers and they serve 100 children per day for the whole month of July. While going through the training and informing them of the guidelines for the program I could see that with about 3 weeks before the start of their program that they were eager to get started. They're incredibly excited and they can't wait to serve!
Over the summer I will be making many posts on the Summer Food Service Program highlighting the work that Feeding America Southwest Virginia is doing in the area through the feeding of children along with the programming of the sites. I am passionate about service and working with children and I can't wait to see the impact when these two passions align.
More information about the Summer Food Service Program and other programs can be viewed at: https://www.faswva.org/programs/