El Centro, California (NAPSI) - Here’s food for thought: Of the 55 million kids enrolled in U.S. schools, 21 million get free or reduced-cost lunch, yet 85 percent of the schoolchildren eligible for these U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sponsored lunches don’t get such meals when school’s not in session.
What’s more, one in five children in the U.S. struggle with hunger. According to the USDA, more than 23 million Americans live in “food deserts”—geographic areas where fresh, healthy and affordable food is difficult to access.
At the same time, federal programs designed to provide meals to underserved children are underutilized, and 40 percent of all food grown in America is wasted.
What’s Being Done
Fortunately, these problems can be solved. Bringing about a refreshing change is a company that’s uniquely qualified to address this challenge, using its unrivaled food sourcing, food distribution, and research and development innovation skills to get fresh meals to underserved communities.
Through its “Food for Good” initiative, created in collaboration with USDA and other agencies and organizations, PepsiCo expects to deliver over 5 million healthful servings to kids this year through summer and afterschool meal programs, community-run farm stands and other programs to make healthful food accessible for low-income families year round.
“Food for Good is an expression of our commitment to Performance with Purpose. It’s our goal to deliver sustained financial performance while at the same time embracing Human Sustainability, Environmental Sustainability and Talent Sustainability,” says Matt Smith, director, PepsiCo Food for Good. “The program is a great example of public-private collaboration where together we are able to make a difference in the lives of children who would otherwise go hungry.”
“These kinds of unusual partnerships are most likely the key to the future of solving these really endemic, almost intractable problems,” adds Larry James, president and Chief Executive Officer of CitySquare, a Dallas-based nonprofit that collaborates with PepsiCo to feed students in Texas and Colorado.
The initiative has already delivered approximately 11 million servings to inner-city children since it was established in 2009.
The meals all meet USDA standards and ensure a balanced diet with whole grains, dairy, and fruits and vegetables.
What Parents Can Do
First, find out if your kids’ school or afterschool programs provide breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Meanwhile, there are several steps all parents can take to make sure their children get nutritious meals whether in school or out. According to the USDA, “the diets of children and adolescents would be improved by increasing the intake of vegetables, especially dark greens and beans; replacing refined grains with whole grains; substituting seafood for some meat and poultry.”
Kids should eat five fruits and vegetables a day. Fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables all count.
In addition, your family may care to switch to low- or nonfat milk, yogurt and cheese; choose lean cuts of meat such as skinless chicken; bake or grill instead of frying food; substitute olive or vegetable oil for butter; and use smaller plates for kids.
Finally, remember, regularly scheduled meal and snack times help kids learn structure for eating.
For further facts about the Food for Good program and to find out if there is a Food For Good summer meals site in your community, go to www.pepsicofoodforgood.com.