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USDA School Lunch Test Program Provides 3 Square Meals a Day For At-Risk Youth

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USDA School Lunch Test Program Provides 3 Square Meals a Day For At Risk Youth

In a speech at the 2015 National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $27 million to fund projects to help end child hunger. The projects will take place in Kentucky, Nevada, and Virginia, as well as the Chickasaw and Navajo tribal nations. Many at-risk kids depend on their school lunch as their sole nutrition, which is why one of the test programs will focus on providing them with three square meals per day through the school lunch program.

"Too many children in America live in households that don't always know where their next meal is coming from. Many families are forced to buy cheaper, less healthy foods because they don't have resources to purchase healthier options, or don't live close to a store that sells healthy food," Secretary Vilsack said. "At USDA, we're deeply committed to ensuring that all Americans, especially children, have access to a healthy diet whether at home or at school. The goal of ending child hunger in America is absolutely achievable, and this new initiative will help us test innovated strategies for getting there."

In all, 15.8 million children live in families that aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from. This puts undue stress on kids and makes it difficult for them to succeed in school. One particular test project in Virginia aims to reduce this food insecurity by providing school children in certain areas with three meals per day. It will also provide food for weekends, school holidays, and resources for the summer months, which are all times when food insecure kids fear they won’t have enough to eat. The program is targeted at states with chronic rural poverty where kids are often at risk of going hungry and don't have access to the necessary nutrition.

According to USDA:

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Healthier people go to the doctor less and have fewer medical expenses, miss fewer days of school and work, are able to join our military to defend our nation, and are more successful in the long run. USDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition and empowering families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food.

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Image: USDA

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