(BRIDGETON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher and U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service representatives today helped serve lunch to students participating in the Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program at Bridgeton High School.
Started in 1976 as an outgrowth of the National School Lunch Program, Summer Food Service is designed to ensure those who are age 18 or younger in low-income areas have access to meals while school is out. It also is open to people over 18 who are mentally or physically handicapped and who participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for the disabled.
“Summer Food Service provides an opportunity for children and those who are eligible to receive healthy meals throughout the summer,” Secretary Fisher said. “The commitment of the City of Bridgeton and the Bridgeton Public Schools to administer these summer meals is a great example of the success that can take place when there is a collaborative effort like the one here.”
The Bridgeton Public School District was a bronze winner for the USDA’s 2017 Turnip the Beet award, which is given to outstanding summer sponsors that serve high quality nutritious meals to low income area children.
The federally funded program reimburses participating organizations for meals served to children who live in areas in which at least 50 percent of the children qualify for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program. Statewide this year there are 130 sponsors for 1,400 sites serving more than 100,000 children daily. In the 2016-2017 school year, nearly 430,000 New Jersey students received free or reduced-price meals in their schools under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). In 2017, 23 percent participating in the NSLP had access to meals in the summer.
Last year, 116 sponsors served more than 3 million meals at the 1,350 feeding sites in the state. Most participating organizations may be reimbursed for up to two meals a day – lunch and either breakfast or a snack. New Jersey ranked 6th in the Nation in 2017 in the percentage of eligible children who received free summer lunches, according to the Food Research and Action Center.
Bridgeton is participating in the Summer Food Service Program with 15 sites this year, feeding 1,200 children per day. During today’s visit, the children were served grilled chicken fajita, with peppers, onions, and salsa black bean fiesta salad and sweet pineapple slices.
“The solid partnership we have with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture has played an essential and significant role in assisting us with serving the nutritional needs of the students and families in the Bridgeton community," said Bridgeton Schools Superintendent Dr. Thomasina Jones. “This is a vital program for the Bridgeton community. We appreciate the support we receive from all stakeholders. It is because of the investment and unwavering support of our partners that we are able to provide the meals we are serving today.”
To learn more about the Summer Food Service Program or how to become a sponsor, visit http://bit.ly/V233JR. To find a feeding site near you, call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) or text Food to 877-877.
To learn more about the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NJDeptofAgriculture and www.facebook.com/JerseyFreshOfficial or Twitter @NJDA and @JerseyFreshNJDA.