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December 14, 2010

USDA Grant to Provide Jefferson and Linn County Families with Additional Funds for Food


US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that Oregon has been awarded a demonstration grant to test new ways to provide nutrition assistance and access to healthy foods to low-income children in nine school districts in Linn and Jefferson counties during the summer. In these two counties, low-income families with school-age children will receive a SNAP benefit card, similar to a debit card, which they can use in stores to buy food. The food benefit will be $60 per child per month during the summertime.

"This grant is excellent news for our students, our families, and our communities," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo. "Our state has the second highest child hunger rate in the nation, and many of our families rely heavily on the meals students receive at school to supplement what is available at home. Despite the availability of summer lunch programs, summer vacation can be a challenging time for families faced with food insecurity. This grant will make a real and measurable difference for some of our most vulnerable children and help ensure that they receive the nutritious meals they need, even when school is not in session."

The Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children (SEBTC) Demonstrations will use the electronic benefit infrastructure of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to give low-income families with school-age children more food resources to use at the store during the summer. In addition to the value of the food benefits that will be provided to recipients in the demonstration areas, Oregon will receive $189,479 for administration and operation of the SEBTC demonstration project.

"This is a landmark opportunity to use our ingenuity to combat childhood hunger and reach kids during the summer months when we know it is challenging to receive the nutrition they need," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The lessons we learn from these demonstrations - to strengthen and complement existing programs - will help shape the nutrition assistance safety net for the future and have the potential to be a welcome additional resource for families worried about feeding their children."

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is an important component of the nutrition safety net which is complemented by these demonstration projects. The projects will also provide USDA with critical knowledge about the impact of cutting-edge nutrition interventions on achieving real progress in the fight against hunger among our children during the summer months. An independent evaluation will be completed for each of the SEBTC demonstrations. The evaluation will determine their effectiveness, particularly at improving food security among children during the summer.

"We know that summer food programs do not reach all the children who get free or reduced lunch during the school year, so summer is a time when many of these children go hungry," said Belit Stockfleth, SNAP Manager at DHS. "In addition, some families living in rural parts of these counties must travel long distances to reach a local summer food location, and we think that using a SNAP card to buy groceries might be a better way to get food for their children during the summer."

Background

The Summer Food Service Program demonstration projects are being conducted under the authority and funding provided by the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2010. The Appropriations Act authorized USDA to use $85 million to develop and test alternative methods of providing access to food for low-income children in urban and rural areas during the summer months, when schools are not in regular session. Additional demonstration projects will be conducted in future years. Improving child nutrition is also a focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that recently passed Congress and was signed by President Obama on December 13, 2010. This legislation authorizes USDA'S child nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, which serves nearly 32 million children each day. It will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Initiative. To learn more, visit http://www.letsmove.gov/


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Susan Castillo, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Susanne Smith, Communications Director, Telephone (503) 947-5637
http://www.ode.state.or.us


Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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