It may be the middle of winter, but at USDA, we like to celebrate the success of our Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) all year long. Therefore, the Western Regional Office is thrilled to announce the winners and honorable mentions of the 2014 Summer Sunshine Awards. A total of eight organizations across the region received Sunshine Awards in 4 unique categories in recognition of their standout efforts in operating the SFSP. The programs impact in local communities depends on the hard work of state agencies, partnering organizations, local sites and sponsors. These awards only begin to show our appreciation for the dedication, innovation, and passion behind the respective organizations.
In the category of Strategies to Promote Nutrition and Wellness, California’s Riverside Unified School District was awarded the honor for employing innovative strategies by collaborating with local partners to provide nutrition education and physical activities at summer meal sites. The Boys and Girls Club of Ada County in Idaho was also awarded the distinction for their incorporation of fresh local produce into summer meals and offering opportunities for physical activity to children at their summer meal sites.
Two deserving winners of the Reaching Rural and Underserved Communities award emphasize the importance of thinking outside the box to provide nutrition to more children in the summer time. Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission of California expanded their summer meals program to seven rural communities by partnering with USDA’s Rural Development. In Washington, Entiat Valley Community Services Food Bank was awarded the distinction for their innovative approach to opening sites in areas of high need, conducting massive media campaigns, and networking with various community partners to ensure meals were delivered to sites in rural areas.
In the category of Successful Community Partnerships, the Des Moines Area Food Bank of Washington was chosen as a recipient for their successful community partnerships resulting in a variety of physical activity and nutrition education workshops at summer meal sites. An Above and Beyond Honorable Mention was awarded to Auburn Unified School District for expanding community partnerships and providing physical activity and nutrition education classes every day of the week at summer meal sites.
For Program Expansion in Local Communities, the award recipient was the Boys and Girls Club of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, for their efforts in expanding summer meal sites in the community by collaborating with local partners to make meals available for the children of Sequim and Port Angeles. Nye County Unified School District of Nevada received an honorable mention for their innovative mobile feeding program using the school “mail” van to deliver meals and traveled with a local “book mobile” to increase summer reading and engage children while eating.
Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentions and a huge thank you from all of us at FNS for the delicious meals and engaging programs you provide to children during the summer months. We look forward to more successes and best practices from each and every Summer Sunshine awardee during summer 2015!