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Metro Action joins Nashville Mayor to increase Outreach for Summer Food Program

3/15/2012

Agency hosts coordination meeting with organizers to ensure communities have access to free meals

Nashville, TN— The Metro Action Commission is accepting applications from organizations, such as summer camps and community centers that would like to provide free meals this summer to low- income young people as part of its efforts to ensure that all children in eligible communities receive free, nutritious meals during the summer. Feeding sites can also include tutoring programs, apartment complex community rooms and other gathering places commonly frequented by eligible participants.

Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process, and the Summer Food Service Program is designed so that children can get nutritious meals they need during the months when school is not in session. To qualify as a summer food site, a facility must be located in or near low income areas where at least 50% of the population qualifies for free or reduced meals during the regular school season.

Dean met with organizers of the city's Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) at a coordination meeting hosted by the Metropolitan Action Commission last week.

“In Nashville, more than 80% of our students receive free or reduced-pay lunch,” Mayor Karl Dean said. “That's a lot of children, and it's important to me that they continue to have access to nutritious meals during the summer months. We should not let hunger be an obstacle for children's health, ability to learn and their success.”

The Metropolitan Action Commission worked with the Metropolitan Planning Department to create a county map that included the 139 SFSP sites in the county and their proximity to communities with low-income families to determine if any area was underserved.

“What we learned is there are summer food sites in nearly all areas where a considerable amount of low-income citizens reside in our county, but we suspect there may be smaller communities that do not have a site that may benefit from the program,” said Cynthia Croom, executive director of the Metropolitan Action Commission.

Metro Action, one of eight sponsors of SFSP, is the largest provider of meals in Nashville and Davidson County. Last year Metro Action prepared a daily average of 4,000 breakfast and lunch meals during the summer to 108 sites such as summer camps and community centers.

“Our capacity is about 110 sites, so it is important for us to look at this with our other seven SFSP partners to determine how we can expand to other areas and increase the awareness that any child can obtain a meal by walking into one of the summer food locations,” said Croom.

Davidson County receives funds for SFSP from the Tennessee Department of Human Services through a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service. Last summer the SFSP allowed sponsors to provide free breakfast and/or lunch meals to nearly 140 sites that serve school age children up to 18 years old.

Metro Action requests applications are submitted by March 30 for consideration as a meal site. Meals will be provided from June 4 through July 27.

Applications are available at the agency's main office, located in the Clifford Allen Building, 800 2nd Avenue North and on the Metro Action website (www.nashville.gov/mac). Applicants may also call 615-862-8860, Extension 70120.

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