KidEating 1The state of Missouri provides several meal programs during the school year (National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program) that feed underserved students. Programs like these help households avoid the problems of food insecurity and inaccessibility to healthy foods. However, at the commencement of summer break the majority of these families are left with a large question mark about how to effectively feed their children. Without the aid programs, many are required to increase their allocation for monthly food spending, an unrealistic possibility for most relying on these programs.

Fortunately since 2011, the state of Missouri has been participating in a federally funded pilot program that insures these children are provided with access to healthy foods during the summer. The program SEBTC (Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children) provides households, with eligible children, extra funds in the form of an EBT card, based off the current SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) system in Missouri, to purchase extra food.

AppleKid 1ARCHS has, for the last 6 years, partnered with the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and the State of Missouri in assisting in the facilitation of this program through the St. Louis Public School District and the Ferguson-Florissant School District. In addition to aiding participants with support of the system and friendly reminders of the programs expiration dates, ARCHS has created a 2017 Summer Meals Guide to aid families in finding healthy food options and farmers markets that accept EBT (and SEBTC) transactions.

ARCHS has seen steady growth in this program over the past 6 years. To this date SEBTC has served more than 24,369 children in the St. Louis area. In fact from 2015 - 2016 the number of participants increased by 61% to reach the 2016 yearly total of 8,897 children, with projections for 2017 being even greater. Overall, the program in these 2 school districts has seen an economic impact of $2.7 million of the available funds having been spent, averaging about $690,000 a year. These positive trends have allowed ARCHS to champion the results of this program at a federal level White House Event last January and to further advise local food programs during the summer months.

In addition to the overarching initiative of SEBTC, ARCHS has teamed up with several regional organizations to further assist families bridging the summer food gap. The most notable is Operation Food Search’s (OFS) support of ARCHS’ funded and supported summer camp at St. Francis Cabrini Academy. Every morning their fleet of brightly colored vans delivers the iconic Food for Good bins to the program site. Filled with meals for the children attending the summer camps, these bins insure the kids have a substantive meal packed with enough proper nutrients to help them enjoy their summer break. Along with OFS’s support of ARCHS program they sponsor a fleet of vans that provide meals to mobile sites around the city.

Click here to download ARCHS’ 2017 Summer Meals Guide