Mayor celebrates start of free summer meals for youth

Today Mayor Ed Murray formally kicked off the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) at Jefferson Community Center in Beacon Hill. Beginning this week and running through the end of August, the program serves free nutritious lunches, breakfasts and snacks to thousands of Seattle children at over 100 community sites. At the event, the Mayor was joined by Seattle Sounders Forward Steve Zakuani, representatives from the USDA, United Way of King County and local school-aged children participating in SFSP.

“The Summer Food Service Program helps ensure that all children have access to a nutritious meal during the school break,” Murray said. “Many school-aged children and working families in Seattle count on free and reduced school lunches during the school year. When school is out, this program can be a big help to those families.”

SFSP, also known as Summer Sack Lunch, was established in 1968 in response to growing concerns about the lack of nutrition resources for low-income children during the summer months. In 2014, 5,036 Seattle children and teens received 205,271 meals. The sites include community centers, Seattle park playgrounds, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA’s and YWCA’s. Most participating community sites offer full-day services and/or meaningful and supervised summer activities. In addition to assistance received by the organizations who host and staff their respective sites, the United Way of King County is a key partner to the City by staffing many of the park sites through AmeriCorps.

“No child should have to try to learn on an empty stomach. USDA’s school meal programs play an important role in providing children across Washington with healthy breakfasts and lunches. But we know that hunger doesn’t stop just because school is out. That is why we are proud to be working with the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and local partners, such as the City of Seattle, to help fill this gap through USDA summer meals programs, which provide nutritious meals to children throughout the summer and helping them return to school ready to learn,” said Jesus Mendoza, Jr., Regional Administrator of USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

The Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction administers the program on behalf of the USDA. The meals are provided with funding from USDA, the City of Seattle General Fund, and generous donations from Lawyers Helping Hungry Children.

For a complete list of sites and hours for the Summer Food Service Program, please call 206-386-1140 or visit www.seattle.gov/summerfood.