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Success Stories

Hunger Takes No Vacation

Danielle Logan
Summer Food Program

Most students look forward to summer vacation with anticipation of relaxing and having fun, but many students don’t have that luxury because when the school year ends their next healthy meal isn’t guaranteed. In fact, more than 21 million students in the United States depend on free or reduced-price school meals nine months out of the year under the National School Lunch Program. In Virginia, more than 1.25 million students qualify for this program.

For these reasons, USDA created the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), an interagency partnership comprised of USDA Rural Development and USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services that aims to help ensure low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals during the summer months.

One of the biggest challenges that SFSP faces is providing access to children in rural areas. While hunger exists in every community across the country, the rate of food insecurity among rural households is higher than the national average. USDA Rural Development uses its multi-family housing complexes as feeding sites, which are a part of the 174 communities nationwide that hosts SFSP activities.

As the program has flourished with record numbers in 2015, USDA Rural Development expanded in Virginia from two to 17 properties making the state’s program one of the most active in the country. New properties are located in Halifax, Hanover, Mecklenburg, Amherst, Cumberland, Appomattox, Bedford, Nelson, Rockingham, Southampton, Sussex and Henrico.

A Virginia SFSP partnership between Laurel Woods Apartments in Ashland and Richmond Parks and Recreation was celebrated in August when USDA Rural Development’s Under Secretary Lisa Mensah and USDA Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services’ Under Secretary Kevin Concannon visited Laurel Woods.

USDA Rural Development will look to capitalize on SFSP’s 2015 success by significantly increasing program service area in 2016. Plans include expansion to StrikeForce zones in Southwest Virginia where the poverty rate is highest. In this expansion, USDA Rural Development will continue to build relationships with sponsors, nonprofits and local community leaders.

SFSP’s steady momentum will ensure children in rural Virginia have the nutrition necessary to return to school each fall ready to learn.

Obligation Amount:
Year(s) of Obligation:
Congressional District:
4th, 6th, 7th