Community Intervention Program – Summer “Free” Meal Program, Essay Example

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Essay

Through the school year, families that fall below the federal poverty line or have financial difficulty can apply for reduced breakfast and lunch meals. The concern for students that live in poverty is the fact that the breakfast and lunch meal at school may be the only nutritious meal that they receive for the day. During the summer months, these children may be left without nutritious meals or food at all, which is an enormous problem for society as a whole.  The Free and Reduced Price School Meals and Summer Program have been implemented to prevent these children from going hungry and to receive proper nutrition. This paper will examine the summer meal program and the effectiveness of its community intervention.

Does The Summer Meal Program Measure Up

While the theory is good, some question the actual implementation and nutritional value of the summer meal program. It is meant to intervene for those children that may not have a nutritious meal at home otherwise, not just a plate so the child is not hungry. According to Cotugna & Vickery, 203 students were interviewed about their participation in the Summer Meal Program and they stated that taste was the leading factor found to be beneficial (2004). All the meals served were found to meet the Federal Nutritional Guidelines, however there was much waste of the food. The waste was found to be some of the most important food items that contained the most vital nutrients. Of these nutrients, were iron, calcium and vitamin C and while the program administrators cannot be cited for a child refusing to eat an orange it is important to take into consideration when determining the true effectiveness of the program (Cotgna & Vickery, 2004).

When the nutritional factors are limited by waste, one must consider how effective or beneficial the program is to the community as a whole.

Poverty Stricken Families

According to the United States Department of Agriculture there are about 22.5% of children that live in food-insecure households (Cleaver, 2011). They may not have adequate amounts of food in their homes, much less the recommended nutritional values that is required for appropriate health. These summer meal programs have been implemented throughout the United States, and by all accounts are a positive program. Children, their families’ and community leaders discuss the benefits of the program as well as the emotional rewards. Children that have appropriate nutrition have better health, an improved outlook on life and a reduced instance of further oppression (Cleaver, 2011).

The program also sends sack meals home with children over the weekends so that they will have a nutritious meal every day. These children are given the opportunity to eat a healthy meal, snacks and have dairy products, even when the school or meal center is closed. Families are able to concentrate on other living expenses, which reduces frustration and also ensures that their children are properly fed. With the slumped economy, the United States Government has seen an increased need for reduced lunches during the school year as well as participation in the summer meal programs (Oliveira, 2002).  They have increased their funding and promotion of such programs to end improper nutrition for young children and also ensure that no child goes hungry or without. The Summer Meal Program is a good community intervention as it is addressing a need within society. It is tragic that families are placed in this position and the potential of a child going hungry is simply unacceptable.

References

Cleaver, S. (2011). Schools to the Rescue. Instructor, 120(6), 43-47.

Cotugna, N., & Vickery, C.E. (2004). Children Rate the Summer Food Service Program. Family Economics & Nutrition Review, 16(1), 3-11.

Oliveira, V. (2002). Food Assistance Expenditures Increase in 2001. Foodreview, 25(1), 45

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