Sacramento-Area School Kids Enjoy Picnic at the Capitol to Kick Off “Million Meals Summer”
Summer Meals Program Ensures Kids Get Healthy Meals When School is Out of Session
SACRAMENTO-- Today at the State Capitol, Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and state senator from the Sacramento region hosted a picnic celebration to kick off the Million Meals Summer, an effort to help ensure that local students don’t go hungry when school is not in session. Children from five area school districts came to the State Capitol for a free lunch picnic on the Capitol lawn that included games, activities, booths and speakers.
“As America’s farm-to-fork capital, Sacramento has a moral imperative to lead the way to ensure our kids get the food they need to succeed – both during the school year and during the summer,” said Dr. Richard Pan. “That’s the reason I’m so excited about the progress we’ve made to serve more meals over the last two summers and about the partners working with us to reach our goal of delivering 1 million meals to kids this summer.”
Two years ago, Dr. Pan brought elected officials and community groups together to launch an ambitious project of expanding the Summer Food Service Program, with the goal of feeding 1 million meals to children in the Sacramento area during the summer. In the past two years, through the work of the collaborative, Sacramento has seen a 20 percent increase in the number of meals served in our under resourced communities. Organizations involved include the United Way, California Department of Education, No Kid Hungry California, local school districts, Sacramento Public libraries and many others.
Kathy Saile, California State Director for the No Kid Hungry campaign, which provided grants totaling $110,000 to Natomas and Elk Grove School Districts for food trucks to deliver summer meals, added, “No child deserves to spend their summer break hungry. We must do everything we can to ensure our young learners have happy, healthy summers so they can return to the classroom in the fall prepared and excited to learn. No Kid Hungry California is proud to partner with Dr. Pan and be part of the Million Meal Summer campaign.”
“We are incredibly grateful for all the trailblazing school districts coming together to transform how summer meals are delivered to California communities,” said Leyla Marandi, California Food California Kids Manager at the Center for Ecoliteracy. “Together, we’re getting the word out with bright billboards, posters and other resources to let families know where they can find a free, delicious meal featuring fresh California-grown fruits and vegetables for their child. Summer meals will be available all season long and can be found by visiting www.summermeals.org.”
Historically, only 12 percent of eligible kids in Sacramento are served summer meals while one in four live in a family that struggles with hunger. In 2015, Sacramento left $3 million in federal funds on the table because we could not figure out how to get meals to hungry kids.
At today’s picnic, Sysco Sacramento chef Spencer Richins served as the event’s chef, and students also had the opportunity to visit a farmer’s market with locally sourced foods, pose with Coco the Dairy Cow from the Dairy Council of California and stop by the “Ask a Nurse” booth from Samuel Merritt Nurses.