Summer shouldn’t equal hunger. Though for many Arizonan children and their families, not being in school often means the absence of one, if not two, meals a day. The Arizona Department of Education’s Summer Food Program seeks to put an end to that however.
Chandler Unified School District has a robust and active nutrition program, focusing on whole child wellbeing and education, and they’ve continued their school year-long mission to serving Arizona’s children right into the summer months with Summer Food Pizza Camp.
The event conspires to blend much-needed healthy meals for low income students and their families with fun in a family-friendly activity: makin’ da pizza pie!
Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas and ADE staff, along with Chandler Unified staff, were excited to be immersed in the healthy chaos of the day’s lunch service and pizza-making activity. Children ran around cafeteria at Ken “Chief” Hill Learning Center. Baxter and Bobby Freeman from the Arizona Diamondbacks entertained us during the event, and there certainly were a lot of playful squeals (especially when Baxter made his rounds) from the children.
The day’s event hosted a lunch for students and their families, followed by a “pizza camp,” where children made their very own pizza from scratch. Children decorated the pizza boxes, helped stretch their own dough, and selected fresh toppings from all the traditional pizza yummies, such as pepperoni, onions, green and red peppers, and mushrooms. They even added their own sauce and cheese.
The Arizona Department of Education Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) served more than three million meals in 2016 at school districts throughout the state. The program is part of an effort to ensure Arizona’s children receive continuous access to healthy meals. The program serves children ranging from newborns to 18 years old. SFSP sites, which can be a school or a non-profit organization like a YMCA or a Boys & Girls Club, must be in eligible areas where the percentage of children approved for free or reduced-priced lunch is 50 percent or higher. Sponsors are allowed to serve two meals or a meal and a snack per day.
Chandler Unified is just one of the school districts that are participating in the SFSP. Those interested in locating SFSP sites in their area, as well as their operating dates and times, can log on to https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks and type in their address or zip code or text FOOD to 877-877.