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Stepping Up to Provide Meals for Children

Posted on Sep 10, 2019

Eighty-three servings of French toast, 421 helpings of chicken nuggets and more than 2,250 platefuls of fruits and vegetables. This all adds up to an important community resource: ensuring children don’t go hungry during the summer break.

This summer, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital became the first children’s hospital in Florida to partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) BreakSpot. This statewide, federally funded program helps children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session, providing an important resource in a community where more than 50% of families with kids in school receive free/reduced lunches during the school year.

As a Summer BreakSpot, the hospital is addressing food insecurity, which is a state of being without access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. In the 10-county area served by Feeding Tampa Bay, one in five children struggles with hunger. During the eight-week program, the hospital cafeteria served more than 2,250 meals to local children at no charge.

“Data shows that children are at an increased risk for food insecurity, malnutrition and obesity during the summer months when they don’t have access to meals provided by school breakfasts and lunches,” explains Stephanie Sambatakos, program coordinator for Government & Community Affairs at Johns Hopkins All Children’s. “Making nutritious meals available during the summer months helps support improved long-term health outcomes.”

High school student volunteers joined hospital staff from the community affairs and food service departments to make the program a success that was well received by patients and their families. Johns Hopkins All Children’s plans to expand the program in summer 2020 to benefit additional children and to address this ongoing community self-identified need.

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