PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — When the school year ends, so do many school-based meals. The Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Education are reminding residents that there are food assistance programs that can help students and caregivers facing food insecurity over the summer.
“School feeding programs ensure students have nutritious meals during the school year, but when the school year ends, summer options are available to both children and their caretakers. Food is a necessity we all deserve equal access to, but this is especially true for our youngest and most vulnerable populations,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding in a press release.
The release notes that according to 2019 data from Feeding America, 14.6% of children in Pennsylvania did not always know where their next meal was coming from.
“When school-based meals end with the school year, addressing child food insecurity can become an even greater challenge,” says a press release from the state Departments of Agriculture and Education.
Programs that can help Pennsylvania children and caretakers experiencing food insecurity include:
- Summer Food Service Program: Ensures kids have access to nutritious meals when school is not in session
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC): Provides vouchers that can be redeemed at grocery stores for specific food items
- WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs: Provide vouchers to qualifying individuals to be spent at participating farmers markets
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Provides assistance for purchasing food at grocery stores and supermarkets
According to the press release, many food banks also offer backpack programs during the summer months and the school year. Food banks and food pantries in Pennsylvania can be found using this map.
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“At the Department of Education, we work tirelessly to ensure that students are healthy and cared for both in and out of the classroom,” said Education Secretary Eric Hagarty in the release. “Fortunately, assistance is available no matter which city or town you call home, and at no cost to you. We encourage Pennsylvanians in need to take advantage of these critical resources throughout the summer months.”