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CSBG Dear Colleague Letter Partnering with USDA Summer Food Service Program

Published: May 7, 2014
Community Services Block Grants (CSBG)
Guidance, Policies, Procedures, Dear Colleague Notices

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Office of Community Services
Division of State Assistance
370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20447


Community Services Block Grant
Dear Colleague Letter

Re: Partnering with the USDA Summer Food Service Program to Reduce Summer Time Food Insecurity for Poor Children

Date: May 7, 2014

Dear Colleagues:

Every summer, millions of children who rely on meals through the National School Lunch Program during the school year go hungry.  The USDA Food and Nutrition Program’s Summer Food Services Program reaches out to low-income children in their communities with nutritious meals served by State and community-based sponsors.  However, the program can only reach children through strong networks dedicated to the anti-hunger and anti-poverty mission.  Community Action is a natural partner to help USDA in this effort to feed children.

The USDA has reached out to the CSBG community to help fill the gaps and strengthen the State networks of the Summer Food Service Program.  There are many ways CSBG State agencies, State CSBG associations, Community Action Agencies and other partners can help, including:

  • Become a summer feeding site: A site is a facility, approved by the State’s Summer Food Service agency, where meals are served during a supervised time period.  No food preparation is necessary.  Distribution sites may include schools, recreation centers, playgrounds, parks, churches, community centers, day camps, residential summer camps, housing projects, and migrant centers, or tribal facilities.
  • Spread the word to families about nutritious meals for children: Many families and children who qualify for school meals through the National School Lunch Program are not aware of the USDA Summer Food and Service Program, needlessly intensifying hunger during the summer months.  Help get the word out about summer meals for children by publicizing the summer feeding sites in your community and sharing the National Hunger Hotline (1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE). The USDA website offers ready-to-print flyers and other tips and resources for raising awareness.  To find summer feeding sites in your community, call the National Hunger Hotline or visit www.whyhunger.org/findfood and use the online map. 
  • Collaborate to reach all hungry children: USDA offers online tool kits for State and community planning, collaboration, and delivery of the Summer Food Service Program. 

For more information, please see the USDA Summer Food and Service Program’s Frequently Asked Questions, attend a webinar, or contact your State coordinating agency.  The March 11, 2014 webinar, “Be a Summer Food Champion,” may be particularly interesting to the CSBG Network.  If you have additional questions, please contact the Office of Community Services.

USDA challenges each of us in the CSBG Network to serve as a “Summer Meal Champion” and help reach every child in our communities so that no child goes hungry in the summer.  Thank you for your commitment to serving low-income children and families.

Jeannie L. Chaffin                                                       Seth Hassett
Director                                                                       Director, Division of State Assistance
Office of Community Services                                     Office of Community Services