New Hampshire Organizations Address Food Security During Summer Months

New Hampshire Organizations Address Food Security During Summer Months
By Colleen Whitcomb, Academic Advisor, Southern New Hampshire University

Food security is one of the New Hampshire Public Health Association’s legislative priorities. 13.3% of children in New Hampshire were food insecure in 2018, with rates increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and cost of living increases across the state (Feeding America, 2018). Many families rely on school programs to provide breakfast and lunches during the school year, meaning that summer can be challenging for food insecure families. Several health problems are associated with not having proper nutrition, ranging from growth and development impacts to mental health issues like anxiety (Fueled by Kids, n.d.). In rural areas of New Hampshire, transportation can be a challenge for families who are unable to drive to centralized locations in the middle of the day to pick up meals for their children. 

Organizations across New Hampshire have found creative solutions to offer a variety of programs to ensure food security for New Hampshire’s children during the summer months. One existing resource is the New Hampshire Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which receives state and federal funding. SFSP is offered in the summer months to make sure that children in low-income areas have access to free, nutritious meals and snacks. This program allows an additional 7900 kids between 0-18 years old to be fed during the summer months in New Hampshire (New Hampshire Hunger Solutions, n.d.). This also helps bring more than $680,000 toward the state economy (New Hampshire Hunger Solutions, n.d.). Meals are provided at a central site, such as a park, community center, or low-income housing complex. 

Another program is Gather’s Meals for Kids, which serves the Seacoast region from Rochester to Seabrook. The program uses a mobile market model and the Pantry Market to distribute meals. This program feeds 700 children each week (New Hampshire Children’s Health Foundation, n.d.). Additionally, nonprofit organizations in New Hampshire have partnered with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide meals to children at sites around the state, including Boys and Girls Clubs and Community Action Programs (Shea, 2017). 

NHPHA members and prospective members are uniquely positioned to help spread awareness of these resources and programs to the populations they serve. Attached is a FLYER if your organization is interested in hosting a Summer Meals site. Below are some resources to help families connect with these resources:

  • You can text the word “food” and your ZIP code to 304-304 for the location of the closest USDA-affiliated program.

  • Share the Food Map that lists more than 400 partner agencies across the state, including food pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and children’s programs.

  • Former foster youth can apply for time-limited federal funding under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. This funding can be used for rent, utilities, groceries, education expenses, and other necessities. 

References

Feeding America. (2018). Child Food Insecurity in New Hampshire. Retrieved from: https://map.feedingamerica.org/county/2018/child/new-hampshire

Fueled by Kids. (n.d.). Our Mission. Retrieved from: https://fueledbykids.org/

New Hampshire Children’s Health Foundation. (n.d.). Foundation supports essential food Security work. Retrieved from: https://nhchildrenshealthfoundation.org/driven-by-mission/

New Hampshire Hunger Solutions (n.d.). Summer Meals. Retrieved from: https://nhhungersolutions.org/our-work/summer-food-service-program/

Shea, L.R. (2017). Summer Food Programs Feed NH Kids When School is Out. New Hampshire 

Charitable Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.nhcf.org/what-were-up-to/summer-food-programs-feed-nh-kids-school/

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