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Expanded summer food programs ensure Delaware children don't go hungry when school is out

 Colonial's mobile summer food program brings lunch to children in their neighborhoods

Districts and charters across the state are ensuring children who rely on school food don’t go hungry this summer by providing free meals in their communities.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), a federally funded program operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and managed locally by the Delaware Department of Education, targets children in low-income areas to ensure they have healthy meals during the summer. Meals are provided in communities in areas where children gather. No registration or proof of eligibility is required at open meal sites– any child under 18 who comes is fed.

“We know many children’s food needs don’t end when school does. This program provides nutritious food to children in their own communities so they don’t go hungry during the summer months,” Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said.

Ten districts and charter schools are program sponsors this year: Brandywine School District, Capital School District, Christina School District, Colonial School District, Early College High School charter, Las Americas ASPIRAS Academy charter, Laurel School District, Prestige Academy charter, Red Clay Consolidated School District and Woodbridge School District. Other community organizations, such as the Food Bank of Delaware, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, and the YMCA of Delaware, also are sponsoring meal sites across the state.

Some also are looking at creative ways to reach more children.

In addition to its three permanent meal sites that serve breakfast and lunch daily, this year Colonial’s program includes two vans bringing lunch into children’s neighborhoods. This is the first time a district or charter in the state has sponsored a mobile program. Seaford soon will become the second. The Food Bank also is operating mobile feeding sites this summer.

“The summer meals program tries to reach children whereever they’re at,” said USDA Food and Nutrition Service Mid-Atlantic Region Administrator Patricia Dombroski. “And sometimes we have to find creative methods to feed more children during the summer months. We applaud Delaware’s creative and collaborative ways to reach more children with their mobile meals programs.”

Expanding the district’s summer food program is important because “hunger does not take a day off,” Paula Angelucci, Colonial’s supervisor of nutrition services, says.

Colonial’s vans provide lunches to children at Willow Chase, Pine Valley and Galloway Court apartments as well as in the Coventry Park community daily.

Christina also aims to reach more children by continuing its successful family meal night program this summer. Adults can join their children, whose meals are free, for dinner, paying only $2 for their meal. The meals are paired with programming to provide parents with important information to support their children’s learning.

“Family meals can nourish the soul by bonding families together, encouraging communication and healthy habits while keeping extra cash in their pockets,” said Andrea Solge, Christina’s supervisor of child nutrition.

The Family Nights are at Bancroft Elementary and Bayard Middle schools in Wilmington and Brader and Brookside elementary schools in Newark. The district also sponsors 10 sites throughout the district offering breakfast and lunch throughout the summer.

Any families across the state who would like to find open meal sites in their area should call 211 or text the word FOOD to 877-877.

 Media interested in learning more should contact Lauren.Wilson@colonial.k12.de.us for Colonial’s program and Wendy.Lapham@christina.k12.de.us for Christina’s program.

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