Friday, April 29, 2016 - 11:55am
Joined by REAP Food Group, Madison Metropolitan School District, Madison Parks, Public Health, Madison & Dane County and Midvale Baptist Church
An innovative partnership has formed to address food insecurity for children in Madison this summer. REAP Food Group, Madison Metropolitan School District, the City of Madison, Madison Parks, Public Health Madison & Dane County and Midvale Baptist Church are coming together to improve and expand summer meal sites.
The MMSD Summer Food Program, which provides free summer meals to all children 18 and under at over 40 sites city wide, will begin on Monday, June 20. The expansion efforts will serve more children through the program by increasing public awareness and improving access to the free meals for both children and families.
Special efforts will take place at three meal sites this summer. The summer meal partners are adding Elver Park as a new summer community meal site, serving free lunches June 20-Aug 12, from 12:00- 1:00pm to all children and to all adults who accompany children. Parks is a partner in providing the Elver shelter and services related to the facility space. Fun, educational, farm to school activities will take place daily at Elver Park starting at 11:30am. Team members from Midvale Baptist Church and REAP Food Group will serve lunches and lead activities.
"I am thrilled with the collaboration that went into making this possible," said Mayor Paul Soglin, "By increasing awareness and providing new open summer meal sites, we are expanding our efforts to combat hunger that so many children and families face in the summer months."
In addition to the Elver Park site, Lake View and Leopold Elementary Schools will serve free community meals this summer to both children and accompanying adults. Adult meal sponsorship is funded through the City of Madison and other community and corporate partners in efforts to increase access and make open sites more welcoming to families. Program partners continue to seek funding for further summer meal expansions.
REAP Food Group will also be coordinating Farm to School educational lunchtime activities at these two community meal sites. All 40+ Summer Food Program sites will feature locally grown farm fresh fruits and vegetables, coordinated by REAP Food Group and MMSD Food and Nutrition Department.
"We appreciate the willingness of our partners to work together on this important initiative," said Miriam Grunes, Executive Director of REAP Food Group. "This effort not only offers much needed food during a food insecure time of year, but increased exposure to good local food and awareness about where their food comes from will help kids and families toward a lifetime of healthy eating."
While participation in the Summer Food Program has increased in recent years, only 1 in 6 low-income children receive meals through summer programs across the country, according to the Food Research and Action Center.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to work with our partners to increase participation in the Summer Food Program by providing additional sites and spreading the word about our many locations across the city," said Steve Youngbauer, Food & Nutrition Services Director for Madison Metropolitan School District. "We know that thousands of families depend on free school meals and we want to continue to reach these students throughout the summer when school is not in session."
"I hope that this is simply the first step in working with our partners at MMSD and beyond to increase access to healthy, affordable meals throughout the calendar year," added Mayor Soglin.
A summer meal kickoff event will be held at Elver Park on Monday, June 20 at 11:30am and is free and open to the public.
- Mark Woulf, Director, Food and Alcohol Policy608-266-4611