MRPA POLICY POSITION
- Support passage of the FY15 Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act/Healthy, Hunger- Free Kids Act, which would authorize continued funding for SFSP and CACFP, programs managed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- Agriculture Appropriations: Support maintaining current funding for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) in the FY2015 Agriculture Appropriations. These programs provide free meals to low-income children while school is out of session. Park and recreation agencies are the largest public provider of healthy meals and snacks to children outside of schools.
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
SFSP provides free meals and snacks to low-income children ages 18 and under when school is not in session. Local park and recreation agencies use this program to provide healthy meals and snacks to children who might otherwise go hungry in the summer months. When children are served healthy meals, park and recreation agencies are not only helping to address the immediate need of hunger, but are also engaging these children in other educational and enrichment activities.
Many local park and recreation agencies use the SFSP program to serve meals to children enrolled in summer camp and other programming at their facilities. In Philadelphia, where they serve nearly 3 million meals each summer, the Parks and Recreation Department operates “playstreets” in conjunction with their feeding program. “Playstreets” are small, residential streets that are blocked to traffic weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Food is delivered to the site by the feeding program.
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
CACFP pays for nutritious meals and snacks for eligible children who are enrolled in after-school programs at local park and recreation agencies. It also requires that sponsors provide enrichment activities for children who receive meals and snacks through this program. Local park and recreation agencies serve as prime entities to provide this service in communities as they are accessible and trusted within the community and have the services, facilities and staff to offer the enrichment component.
These enrichment components include a wide variety of options, including healthy cooking classes, community gardening, outdoor physical activity opportunities, homework assistance, and arts and crafts. In Houston, Texas the Parks and Recreation Department offers the After School Enrichment Program free of charge to children between the ages of 6 and 13. Children registered in the program take part in a broad range of activities during after-school hours under the guidance of park staff at community centers across the city. Registered children take part in many recreational activities through the After School Enrichment Program, which include arts and crafts, sports, nature instruction, games, and cultural and special events. They also receive a snack and homework assistance.
Why Congress Should Act
Park and recreation agencies are located in nearly every community across the country and serve as sponsors for USDA feeding programs, providing healthy meals and snacks to children during out-of-school times. Besides schools, park and recreation agencies serve as trusted organizations in many communities and fulfill a critical need when children are not in school. These programs provide a valuable resource to individuals with the greatest need. It is vital to these communities to join NRPA in supporting funding for the Summer Food Service Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program in the FY14 Agriculture Appropriations and Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act.