By Joey Current, Trident United Way Health Programs Manager
Summer is here, and students are out of school until August. While students may not be missing the time they spend in the classroom, they may be missing the nutritious meals they receive at school. For the many students that come from low-income households, school is relied upon as a place to receive food through free lunch and other meal assistance programs.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is an important program that helps to ensure that children do not go hungry during the summer months when they are not receiving meals at school. According to the USDA, one in six children in South Carolina are food insecure, meaning they do not have access to enough food on a regular basis. The SFSP helps to fill this gap by providing free, nutritious meals to children 18 and under.
The SFSP can also help to improve children's health. Studies have shown that children who participate in the SFSP are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables, have a lower body mass index, and have better overall health. The program also provides an opportunity for children to learn about healthy eating habits.
The program is often offered at community centers, parks, and other public places like our library systems in Charleston. This allows the program to be more accessible as well as helps to build a sense of community.
Here are some additional facts about the SFSP:
- In 2022, the program served over 1 million meals to children in South Carolina.
- The program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- The program is administered by the South Carolina Department of Education.
- The program is available at over 1,100 sites across the state.
Listed below are local resources for the SFSP in the Tri-County community:
Berkeley County School District - Program is free to all children under the age of 18. Locations are open Monday through Thursday (closed Tuesday, July 4). Breakfast is served from 7:30am-8:30am, lunch served 10:30am-12:00pm. All meals must be consumed on-site. Participating school locations listed on website.
Charleston County School District - Program is free to all children 18 years and younger. Locations are open Monday through Friday (closed Tuesday, July 4). Participating locations and service times listed on website.
Dorchester District Two - Program is free to all children 18 years and younger. Locations are open Monday through Thursday (closed Monday, July 3 through Thursday, July 6). Breakfast is served from 7:30am-8:30am, lunch served 11:30am-12:30pm. All meals must be consumed on-site. Participating school locations listed on website.
If you are interested in learning more about the SFSP in South Carolina, visit https://ed.sc.gov/districts-schools/health-and-nutrition/special-programs/usda-summer-meal-programs/