Burke County Public Schools in Waynesboro, Georgia, is committed to stopping the “summer slide” –that is, the slip into unhealthy eating habits that often happens during the summer months. Nutrition program director Donna Martin’s philosophy is to “not just get fed, but get healthy food.”
In Burke County, more than 25% of families are food insecure. So Donna and her team know how important it is to ensure kids get fed even when they’re not at school. That means providing boxes full of healthy foods to every family in the county, including a week’s worth of meals, delivered by bus to locations close to families, for free.
Every box includes ingredients, straight from local farms, to make healthy meals for an entire family–like stuffed bell peppers and scalloped potatoes. Families receive detailed recipe cards and access to online videos that teach them how to make each meal. Many families encounter ingredients, such as jicama, pomegranates and brussels sprouts, for the first time. They learn how to store and prepare each one as part of a nutritious meal for the entire family.
Burke County Public Schools rely on close partnerships with bus companies to transport the boxes and volunteer students to pack them but continue to face challenges–like finding enough refrigeration space for a weeks’ worth of groceries and getting enough hands to prepare and deliver them. The USDA Summer Meals Program, Donna says, has been key: “I could not begin to do this if I didn’t have USDA funding.”
Baltimore Public Schools Keep Innovating to Serve Millions of Kids Across the City
Since the pandemic started, and now as students break for the summer, Elizabeth Marchetta, executive director of food and nutrition services and her team at Baltimore City Public Schools in Baltimore, Maryland, have made it their mission to ensure that local families across the city never have to worry about a lapse in access to food.
Summer Food Service Program
Summer meal programs are a lifeline for millions of children from families with low income who live in underserved and rural communities. Many children who rely on summer and school meals programs struggle with hunger or food insecurity. In 2014 and 2015, 84% of food-insecure households with school-age children accessed free- or reduced-price lunches.
How School Meals Help Families Impacted by the Pandemic
School meals are a lifeline to tens of millions of families across the country. Jamie Bussel, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, discussed new findings about the importance of school meals with Dr. Mary Story, program director of Healthy Eating Research. Learn about new research showing why healthy meals are so important—and opportunities to help schools ensure more families have access to the healthy foods they need.