Share Our Strength, a national organization working to end childhood hunger in the U.S. by 2015, has partnered with the Georgia Food Bank Association, a statewide association of seven regional food banks and more than 2,500 partner agencies, for the program. The grants will help recipients raise awareness about the Georgia Summer Food Service Program, which provides nutritious meals to more than 100,000 kids during the summer when school is out.
Local organizations receiving the mini-grants are: Golden Harvest Food Bank, Glascock Action Partners Inc., Good Hope Social Services "Camp Hope" and Mercy Ministries Inc.
Nearly 500,000 children in Georgia are at risk of hunger. During summer months, these children are at an even higher risk of hunger -- and obesity --because they lose access to regular nutritious meals at school. The Georgia Summer Food Service Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides free meals to kids throughout the summer at meal sites across the state. However, of the more than 800,000 children who receive free or reduced-price lunch, only about 14 percent (108,511) participate in the summer meals program.
The mini-grants will be used to invest in more extensive outreach to promote the program, more staffing for the sites and better equipment such as refrigerators and serving utensils. Funds are also being used to open new sites in high need areas and to support sites so they can stay open more days throughout the summer. The mini-grants will also help support new meal delivery models, such as supplying vehicles to transport food to neighborhoods that don't have meals sites. Overall, Share Our Strength is investing more than $1.6 million in national, state and community-based organizations in 35 states to help increase the number of kids participating in summer meals programs, including 13 Georgia organizations.
"More than 17 million children in the U.S. don't reliably receive the food they need to lead healthy, active lives. But our kids aren't hungry because we lack food or because of a lack of food and nutrition programs," said Josh Wachs, chief strategy officer for Share Our Strength, in the release. "Our children are hungry because they lack access to existing food and nutrition programs. These mini-grants help meals sites function efficiently, stay open longer and expand the program to new areas -- which helps more kids receive nutritious, regular meals this summer."
Danah Craft, executive director of the Georgia Food Bank Association, added: "The Georgia Food Bank Association food bank members have been providing food and supporting programs for children in Georgia's 159 counties for more than 30 years. We welcome Share Our Strength's support of Georgia's Summer Food Service Program as a part of our ongoing work to fight hunger and as the beginning of an exciting effort in the state to end childhood hunger by 2015. We look forward to strengthening our partnership and benefiting children at risk of hunger across the state, and these mini-grants are an important step in this effort."
The "Feeding for a Promising Future Campaign: No Kid Hungry" initiative, which will launch later this year, is a partnership between Share Our Strength and the Georgia Food Bank Association that will bring together elected officials, government agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations and schools to connect kids to food and nutrition programs in the state and to end childhood hunger.