New FaHN Assessment Provides a Starting Place to Build Summer Meal Connections

sfspThe Food & Health Network is proud to announce the release of Closing the Gap on Childhood Food Insecurity, a new assessment that celebrates success and identifies opportunities for expansion of the Summer Food Service Program in the eight-county FaHN region. Following the 2015 pilot project in Broome County, the regional assessment is expanded to include Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Tioga, and Tompkins Counties.

Closing the Gap includes poverty and food insecurity data, as well as feedback from summer meal sponsors and site supervisors, which are critical to building regional connections, creating successful programming and obtaining funding. The assessment provides important data on the number, capacity and location of all summer meal sites; the needs and unique characteristics of each site; and the current and potential ability to serve more children.

The Taren Family Fund and the Dick and Marion Meltzer Fund of the Community Foundation of South Central New York provided support for the assessment. Many community partners, hunger task forces, and summer meal sponsors and site supervisors provided valuable information to create Closing the Gap. We’re thankful to everyone who contributed, and we hope the assessment will be helpful in your work to increase child food security.

Read the official press release below, and read the full assessment here.


New Report Finds More Kids Receiving Free Summer Meals in South Central NY

A new assessment shows that nearly 8,500 children in South Central NY benefitted from free summer meals through the federal Summer Food Service Program

WHITNEY POINT, N.Y.—Jul. 5, 2016The number of children participating in the Summer Food Service Program, which provides free summer meals to students 18 and under, increased by 38 percent from 2013 to 2015 in South Central New York. This data comes from “Closing the Gap on Childhood Food Insecurity”, a newly released assessment from the Food & Health Network of South Central New York (FaHN), a coalition that works to increase access to healthy, local food and support a strong regional food system. FaHN covers an eight county region including Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Tioga, and Tompkins Counties.

When school lets out, low-income children lose access to the free or reduced-price school breakfasts and lunches they receive during the school year. This leaves many children without reliable access to nutritious food, known as food insecurity.  The Summer Food Service Program works to close the summer gap by providing free meals to food insecure children up to age 18 in a variety settings including schools, summer camps, community centers, churches, parks, and more.

Working with hunger task forces and many community partners throughout the region, FaHN conducted the assessment to understand the barriers that prevent children and families from accessing free summer meals, and develop a collaborative strategy to reach more children in 2016 and beyond. The Taren Family Fund and the Dick and Marion Meltzer Fund of the Community Foundation of South Central New York provided support for the assessment.

“Summer meal sponsors, site supervisors, community organizations, and volunteers across the region are taking innovative approaches to reduce child food insecurity during the summer months. With the support of dedicated partners, the Food and Health Network celebrates success and identifies opportunities for collaboration to close the gap on summer hunger for more kids in the region,” said Maggie Reeger, AmeriCorps VISTA, Food and Health Network of South Central New York.

Participation in summer meals grew from 6,330 in 2013 to 8,500 in 2015 across the FaHN region. Along with an increase in participation, there was a 25 percent increase in the number of summer meal sites from 2013 to 2015, with 120 sites available for children to receive nutritious meals. Although the capacity to feed hungry kids has increased, there is still more work to be done, as only 26 percent of children eating free and reduced price lunches during the school year benefited from summer meals in 2015.

By increasing average daily participation rates from 26 to 40 percent, 13,288 children in the region would have access to nutritious food during the summer months.

To read the full assessment, visit the Food & Health Network website.

About the Food & Health Network
The Food & Health Network of South Central New York (FaHN), a program of the Rural Health Network of South Central New York, is a coalition of diverse partners working together to build food-secure communities in an eight county region: Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Tioga, and Tompkins Counties. Founded in 2005, FaHN brings together stakeholders in the agricultural, public health, sustainability, economic development, educational, business and community sectors. FaHN members strive to create vibrant communities through healthy environments, economic vitality, farm-to-consumer connections and healthy people. Visit FaHN online at http://www.foodandhealthnetwork.org and on Facebook.

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