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Mayors launch first ever summer meals challenge in Arizona


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  • Seth Scott/Phoenix Mayor's Office

Summer Meal Program

On Tuesday, May 12, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton will announce the first ever Arizona Mayors’ Summer Meals Challenge. He will invite all mayors in Maricopa County and Pima County to join him in expanding local children’s access to healthy and nutritious meals throughout the summer months.

“If our youth are truly our priority, we must invest in efforts that promote their health and well-being,” said Mayor Stanton. “Ensuring that children who rely on free or reduced meals during the school year continue to receive the same fuel over the summer guarantees that their minds and bodies continue to develop in ways that affect their future success.”

Mayors launch first ever summer meals challenge in Arizona ArizonaMayorsChallengeSummerMealProgramHP

Arizona served 1.1 million meals to children in low-income areas of the state last summer. That was still just a fraction of the number of kids who qualify for free or reduced-price meals during the school year, like those in this 2013 photo. Photo courtesy of Tiffany Martin/Cronkite News Service

Mayor Stanton will be joined by Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, Jesus Mendoza, Jr., USDA Food and Nutrition Service Regional Administrator, leadership from the Arizona Department of Education and the Phoenix Elementary School District #1, and students at Garfield Elementary School to announce the challenge.

During the school year, more than 465,000 children in Arizona rely on the nutritious, free and reduced priced meals provided through USDA’s National School Lunch Program. The Summer Food Service Program ensures that low-income children continue to have access to nutritious meals even when school is out, yet only about 92,000 children participate each day in Arizona. That means families who may rely on school meals to keep hunger at bay are at higher risk during the summer months.

This summer, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Summer Food Service Program, USDA has set the goal of serving 200 million meals across the country—13 million more meals than were served in 2014. Arizona is one of 13 states targeted by the USDA for enhanced assistance to improve access to summer meal programs in 2015.

“We know that hunger doesn’t stop just because school is out,” said Under Secretary Concannon. “Summer meal programs allow communities to take the lead role in preventing hunger and focus their efforts in areas with the greatest need. That is why local efforts, such as the Arizona Mayors’ Summer Meals Challenge, are so crucial.”

WHEN:          Tuesday, May 12, 2015,  11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

WHERE:       Garfield Elementary School at 811 N 13th St., Phoenix, AZ 85006

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. In addition to the Summer Food Service Program, these programs include the National School Lunch Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which together help comprise America’s nutrition safety net. For more information, visit www.fns.usda.gov.