Stretching Your Summer Food Budget
October 17, 2013
I am always looking for ways to stretch my food budget – especially in the summer when it seems like we have extra travel expenses. Planning menus and paying cash for groceries are some of the best ways to keep spending in check. And those are two things I really need to be intentional about practicing.
This summer though, I also found out about the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in my area. The Food and Nutrition Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, administers this nation-wide program. The USDA, through state agencies, reimburses school districts and other organizations for meals and operating costs.
In towns across the country schools public agencies, and private nonprofit organizations are providing free lunches and afternoon snacks for kids ages 1 to 18. In my town, every weekday through mid-July (many places offer the program all summer) kids can come and get a free meal. No identification, registration or adult accompaniment is required for children to receive the free meals. The program is open to all children, not just area residents.
When I first heard about this, I hesitated to take my kids because I didn't want to be taking anything away from someone who really needed the food. But, I learned, organizations need many kids to take advantage of the program so that they can justify keeping it open for the kids who really need it.
“Many people don’t realize that this program doesn’t cost the district any money – in fact, we need people to take advantage of the free meals so we can keep
this service going.”
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"This program is a great opportunity for parents to save money, and to help out the children in the community who may not have access to a nutritious meal at lunch," says Kathy Eaton, Scott City, Kansas Schools Food Service Director. "Many people don't realize that this program doesn't cost the district any money – in fact, we need people to take advantage of the free meals so we can keep this service going."
I have been taking my kids to the school for meals for the past few weeks, and they have enjoyed going. I like the fact that it saves me money and the time and effort of planning lunch. The meals served are just like those served during the school year.
For more information about the SFSP and to find out if there are any organizations serving food in your area, call1-866-3-HUNGRY or visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/summer-food-service-program-sfspt. ❖