Phil Cowee: Site hosts needed for USDA summer meals program | NevadaAppeal.com

Phil Cowee: Site hosts needed for USDA summer meals program

Phil Cowee
USDA RD Nevada State Director

As we head toward the end of the school year, many parents and children are thinking about summer. Sadly, though, for many parents, the thought is: "How will I feed my children?"

Childhood hunger is a persistent problem in many parts of rural America. This especially so during the summer when school is out and many kids don't have enough to eat. My agency, USDA Rural Development, is working closely with our sister agency, the Food and Nutrition Service, in an innovative partnership to help alleviate hunger by providing nutritious meals to children during the summer. Together, we're working to implement Secretary Perdue's vision to "Do right and feed everyone."

This year we're expanding our reach into rural communities. We're looking at innovative ways to strengthen partnerships and support infrastructure in rural communities. Rural Development is committed to providing efficient and effective customer service while improving the quality of life and creating prosperity in rural communities. The summer meals collaboration provides a great opportunity to build innovative partnerships and leverage our collective resources to feed rural children during the summer.

Our approach to this work is governed by the three priorities Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue established for USDA Rural Development: Infrastructure, Partnerships and Innovation.

Modern infrastructure is a necessity — not an amenity — for any community to thrive. No matter what zip code you live in, infrastructure is a foundation to provide a high quality of life and economic opportunities. USDA's Community Facilities and Rural Housing programs have helped to finance modern facilities such as libraries, schools, community centers and apartment complexes that can serve as feeding sites

Rural Development is committed to expanding our impact though innovative partnerships. Our collaboration with the Nevada Department of Agriculture that runs the Summer Food Program is a great opportunity to leverage collective resources to feed more children in rural areas during the summer.

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The program is funded through the USDA and administered by the State of Nevada Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Division. Multiple partners, like Three Square Food Pantry, Food Bank of Northern Nevada, and Clark County School District are vital to providing a nutritious summer meal in underserved communities.

But more local partners are needed — both site hosts and sponsors to meet this critical need. Site hosts offer a safe area for children to be served a meal, such as at a school, library, recreation center, playground, faith-based organization, community center, day camp, residential summer camp, housing projects, or on Indian reservations. Sponsors handle the administrative oversight for the program and do the reporting for the sites it sponsors. One sponsor can administer multiple sites.

Contact Tammy Kratz at the Nevada Department of Agriculture at 702-668-4584, or by email at tkratz@agri.nv.gov to learn more. Information online available at http://nutrition.nv.gov/Programs/Summer_Food_Program_(SFSP)/

Working together, we can establish more summer feeding sites to support kids in rural Nevada.

Phil Cowee is the State Director of USDA Rural Development, based in Carson City. Phil can be reached at 775-887-1222 Ext. 4751.