Children are at increased risk for food insecurity, malnutrition and obesity during the summer, when school is not in session and the National School Breakfast and Lunch programs are suspended. In Wisconsin, 1 in 5 kids struggle with hunger. Only 16% of kids who qualify for free/reduced price school lunch are also getting summer meals. The good news: Non-profit health care institutions pair perfectly with USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), allowing hospitals in eligible areas to offer nutritious meals at no cost to children.
Participation in the SFSP within health care’s existing infrastructure provides an opportunity to improve population health by increasing access to nutritious meals for those most in need. Across the country, hospitals have implemented SFSP via a variety of models, all of which are financially sustainable, not disruptive to daily operations, and meet the needs of a high-risk population.
“At UW Health we’ve been able to partner with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to offer free nutritious meals to over 2,000 children each summer. The program is easy to implement and the sponsoring organization is reimbursed for the meals. It’s a low to no cost way for hospitals to give back to the community, while also ensuring children don’t go hungry over the summer when school is not in session.”
– Megan Waltz, Director of Culinary and Clinical Nutrition Services at UW Health
Healthcare institutions are uniquely positioned to participate in federal hunger relief programs and engage in the fight against hunger to improve the health and quality of life of the people they serve. For more information about the SFSP visit https://dpi.wi.gov/community-nutrition/sfsp, and if interested, contact Amy Kolano, Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Coordinator at (608) 266-7124 or Amy.Kolano@dpi.wi.gov.