School will soon be out for many Tulsa students, and for families struggling with food insecurity this can mean an added strain on the budget. To address this need, the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program provides meals during the summer break.
Nationwide, 2.28 million children participated in the program in 2012 and 39,000 sites across the country helped distribute nutritious meals to children. Participation has grown in recent years. Yet, studies estimate the program still does not reach the majority of children who qualify for assistance under the National School Lunch Program during the regular school year.
The USDA allows for different types of eligible sites under the Summer Food Service Program. Both types of sites depend on standards for free and reduced lunches set by the National School Lunch Program. Students are eligible for free lunches if their household income is at or below 130% of the poverty level. Students from households with income between 130% and 180% of the poverty level qualify for reduced priced lunches.
Under the Summer Meal Service Program, there are “Enrolled Sites,” where each family must fill out an application and the site must (more…)
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Posted in Food and Nutrition, Tulsa, tagged Cherry Street Farmers Market, Community, Farmers Markets, Local food, neighborhoods, SNAP, The Pearl Farmers Market, USDA on August 9, 2013|
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Before it’s too late, I’d like to talk about National Farmers Market Week 2013, which began on August 4th and ends August 10th. Farmers markets provide a local source for fresh, nutritious food, encourage local businesses and give communities a gathering place. This is what the Pearl Farmers Market, located in Centennial Park in Tulsa, does on Thursday evenings by hosting farmers, vendors and live music from 4 to 7 p.m.
The Cherry Street Farmers Market is another well-known market in Tulsa. They operate in two locations, Cherry Street on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and on Brookside on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. And if you can’t make it to the Pearl or Cherry Street markets, have no fear. There are plenty of other farmers markets in the area, as the Tulsa World reported on in April. The USDA also has a directory where people can search for local farmers markets all over the U.S.
Like a growing number of farmers markets, the Cherry Street Farmers Market accepts SNAP benefits. As part of their efforts to promote access to nutritious food, the USDA funded efforts to equip markets across the country with the wireless equipment necessary to take the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card used by SNAP recipients.
While not all farmers markets are equipped to take EBT payments, (more…)
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The USDA has canceled Philadelphia’s universal school lunch program, saying that it cannot adequately monitor program performance, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The program, which is the only in the nation, allows every child in Philadelphia Public Schools to receive a free lunch without having to apply for it. It’s well known that take-up in the school lunch program is suppressed for two reasons: (1) it’s hard to get forms from child to parent and back to school, and (2) children refuse the free or reduced price lunches because other students stigmatize them. Philadelphia, where roughly 75 percent of children are free-lunch eligible (130% federal poverty level), tackles both problems by dropping the application and by ending distinctions between low-income and more advantaged children.
In scuttling the program, the USDA is ignoring the emerging consensus developed by behavioral economists that “default” options greatly improve take-up of valuable programs such as 401(k) savings accounts (doc). While the USDA says the change is based on its need to monitor programs, the cancellation comes at the same time that interest in Philadelphia’s program is growing – New York City and Los Angeles have both asked USDA to allow them to adopt the program. It seems pretty clear, then, that this is really about cost control. Philadelphia argues that program actually saved money by reducing administrative costs, but we all know that too often the preferred form of cost control is erecting barriers to take-up.
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