Challenges in Serving Rural American Children through the Summer Food Service Program

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Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sites across the country are failing to reach a large majority of children in rural areas, according to this new report.

The authors from the Carsey Institute found that lack of transportation and long distances to the program sites are the largest obstacles to the establishment of rural programs.  Also, children are often uninterested in leaving home or parents discourage them from leaving, affecting the program’s participation rates.

It has been hard for some rural areas to establish sites because of the low density of children in given rural areas, and the limited number of children in service areas has made it more difficult to establish cost effective sites, the report stated.

Though families in rural America have the highest nationwide rates of poverty and food insecurity, fewer than one-third of the summer food programs are located in rural areas.  Congress has made several attempts to solve the issues related to rural communities, but it has yet to find the most effective ways to serve these children.

The authors included strategies to improve program participation and to increase sponsors and their interactions.  They also said that creating a process to evaluate the programs may help to create a model for other sites to replicate across rural America.

Free, 6 pages.  www.aecf.org/.

  • CentralCaliforniaNutritionGuy

    As a Large Sponsor (76 community sites) of the Summer Food Service Program in San Joaquin Valley in California, the article is correct on how difficult it is to reach children in rural low income areas. In San Joaquin Valley, Rural and Low-Income go hand-in-hand. What is helpful to us is that we already serve the rural areas with Meals-On-Wheels and Headstart Sites through-out our county. Urge your local Meals-On-Wheels and Headstart Programs to become Summer Food Service Program Sites!