School’s out, summer food service programs are in
The Montana Office of Public Instruction and Mon-
tana Food Bank Network are on a joint mission this
summer. Both organizations want to ensure children
have easy access to Summer Food Service Program sites
across the state.
“Food security is essential for the health and development of all of our children,” said Anna Whiting
Sorrell, Director of the Montana Department of Public
Health and Human Services. Funded by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, the Summer Food Service
Program supports free breakfast, lunch, and supper
meals, as well as snacks for hungry children in communities throughout the Big Sky country.
“For a significant number of Montana families, summer is an especially difficult time of year,” said Christine Emerson, MS, RD, registered dietitian and OPI
director of School Nutrition Programs. During summer, children from low-income families do not have
access to school breakfast or lunch, and their families
may have a hard time putting enough nutritious food
on the table. In these situations, Summer Food Service
Programs can fill a critical nutrition gap.
OPI and the Montana Food Bank Network are collaborating to provide critical outreach about local
SFSP opportunities. This means increasing both the
number of SFSP sponsors and the number of low income
children eating at SFSP sites. Thanks to this
work, Montana children can enjoy healthy meals
at schools, day camps, parks, recreation centers,
Boys and Girls Clubs, Salvation Army centers and a
variety of other sites.
“The real problem in Montana is that only 16 out
of every 100 kids who receive free or reduced price
school meals also eat free SFSP meals during the
summer,” notes Minkie Medora from the MFBN
Food Security Council. “Many families do not
know where the free summer meals for children are
Here are three ways all Montanans can help:
Locate summer meal sites to share with needy
families: Montana Food Bank Network’s website has a list at mfbn.org/summerfoodmt.
Volunteer in local programs to support
summer activities: Many Montana SFSP
programs offer more than lunch in the park. For
example, the Education Foundation for Billings
Public Schools offers Reading Rocks where volunteers read and provide free books to children.
Support the Montana Food Bank Network:
As Montana’s statewide hunger fighting
organization, the network is building a unified
force to provide long term solutions to food insecurity. mfbn.org
Dayle Hayes, MS, RD (EatRightMT2000@gmail.
com) developed this information for Eat Right Montana, a coalition promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles. Past and current issues of Eat Right
Montana, a monthly nutrition and physical activity
tips are available at eatrightmontana.org.