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Celebrating the Western Regional Office Summer Sunshine Award Winners!

Summer Food Service Program – in the middle of winter?

That question is a common one when we talk about the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). During the school year, many children receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch through the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs. What happens when school lets out? Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process. The Summer Food Service Program is designed to fill that nutrition gap and make sure children can get the nutritious meals they need.

At USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) we like to celebrate the successes of our partners on the front lines of the battle to end childhood hunger. Our staff in the Western Regional Office are thrilled to share the winners of the 2010 Summer Sunshine Awards.  These five recipients are incredibly dedicated, passionate and innovative organizations that worked especially hard to make the Summer Food Service Program a success this past summer.

A participant enjoys an apple fresh from the tree during a Boys and Girls Club field trip to a local farm.

The University of Hawaii Maui College Upward Bound Program is the recipient of the award for Integrating Nutrition Education and Physical Activities at Sites.  The Upward Bound Program creatively integrated nutrition and exercise into the program by teaching students how to plan and cook healthy meals and by encouraging walking as the primary mode of transportation.  Students were actually responsible for preparing their own breakfasts and dinners every day (with some supervision, of course)!

The Boys and Girls Club of Ada County in Idaho has won the award for Improving Nutritional Quality of Meals, Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption.  The Boys and Girls Club showed a commitment to offering fresh local foods, filling vending machines with reduced-sugar and lower-sodium products, and partnering with local farms to teach participants about produce. Children in the program sampled snacks, like red peppers and hummus, and took field trips to an orchard nearby, which Nutrition Director Jennifer Aumeier says “gave the children a deeper insight into where food comes from and why local and organic foods are important.”

In Nevada, the Culinary Training Academy of North Las Vegas has won for Increasing Participation and Community Partnerships. Culinary Training Academy was dedicated to increasing the number of sponsors and sites in the Las Vegas community by forming partnerships with local organizations and marketing the program through both print media and special community events.  Efforts included television interviews, the distribution of 5,000 flyers, and community barbecues to raise awareness of the program.

And, finally, there are two great programs in Portland, Oregon, awarded for Service in Distinctive or Rural/Underserved Communities: the Centennial School District and the Yamhill Carlton Elementary Summer Lunch Program.  Centennial was able to reach more underserved communities by partnering with housing and community development organizations in the Portland Metro Area.  Children who couldn’t leave their apartment complexes due to unsafe conditions, busy roads, or other reasons were at last guaranteed access to nutritious food.  Yamhill Carlton showed its commitment to serving rural communities by developing partnerships with community groups and offering healthy foods in a safe, relaxing, and inviting environment.

Congratulations to the winners and a huge thank you from us all at FNS for the wonderful activities and programs you provide to children during the summer months.

Make sure to check back on the Let’s Move! blog next week for the next  post in our Summer Food Service Program series, highlighting Riverside Unified School District’s successful outdoor summer barbeques.