UPDATE: The map was updated June 30 to reflect additional sites.
Most of the 480,395 children in Alabama who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals during the school year don’t have access to those meals during the summer, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Southeast Regional Administrator Ron Bailey. Bailey said often families are doing all they can to provide for their children, but need the additional assistance with summer meals.
Bailey spoke at the Alabama State Board of Education meeting in May and presented a plate of recognition to the state’s Child Nutrition team responsible for expanding the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), branded as “Break for a Plate”, by increasing the number of sponsors and sites for two years in a row.
State Board of Education member Mary Scott Hunter (R-District 8) acknowledged the importance of ensuring students have access to healthy meals, equating calories with brain fuel, and commended the team for ensuring families in need are treated with dignity.
Interim State Superintendent Dr. Philip Cleveland commended the ALSDE’s team for taking the challenge to expand the program on as a personal mission. Alabama was part of a targeted effort by the USDA to expand the program.
ALSDE Child Nutrition Program manager June Barrett summed it up. “Every meal matters, and you can’t teach a hungry child,” she said.
Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) officials said the SFSP is one of the most underutilized feeding programs, with only around 10% of those 480,395 eligible children actually receiving meals.
ALSDE spokesperson Erica Pippins described the success of the program in recent years in an email:
In 2014, ALSDE set its initial goal to increase sponsors and sites by 12% and increase meals by 12%. The results in the first year were amazing. Alabama saw an increase in sponsors by 26.98%; an increase in sites by 60.54%, and an increase in meals by 21.12% – far exceeding the goal.
In 2015, ALSDE set a goal to increase total meals by 15%. Again, ALSDE exceeded its goal with an increase of 30.15% in total meals served. Additionally, ALSDE also increased the number of sponsors by 36.25% and the number of sites by 28.47% over the prior year.
May 13th was the official kick-off of the SFSP, with most locations serving meals as of June 1.
Locations Across the State
For children in about half of Alabama’s 136 school districts, schools are still the place to find meals in the summer. 66 districts, along with 57 other sponsoring organizations across the state, provide meals, including breakfast, lunch, and/or snacks to children 18 and younger through SFSP.
Many of the locations where meals will be served are at schools across the state, though churches, recreation centers and even apartment complexes will also serve meals through the program.
As of June 30, more than 900 sites were listed, though 201 of them will close at the end of this week, July 2.
That still leaves more than 700 sites open and feeding hungry children in Alabama.
The map below comes directly from the USDA, and was updated here on June 30. For sites across the country, click here to go to the USDA’s site finder.
Locations vary, so consult the map below for information on which locations in which area will actually serve meals. Additionally, you can find summer food sites in your area by calling the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (Spanish – 1-877-8-HAMBRE), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time.