ARCHS' partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and State of Missouri is set to provide about 6,000 St. Louis children in the Saint Louis Public School District (SLPS) with access to healthy meals this summer.
The partnership’s activities address the food needs of children when school is out of session for the summer and children do not have access to school meals. The program is not open to the general public.
This is the third time ARCHS has been asked to manage this program. A total of nearly 10,000 SLPS children have benefitted from ARCHS’ previous two program cycles, which operated during the summers of 2012 and 2013. Because this is a federal demonstration project, the program is not able to serve all children in need nor operate every summer.
There will also be a substantial impact on the local economy by the families' use of Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (SEBTC) benefits. A total of $1,465,350 was spent by the participating families during the summers of 2012 and 2013, which was about 91% of the benefits available to them.
The amount of the benefit is comparable to the cost of free lunches plus breakfasts under the USDA regular school meal programs. Benefits - provided monthly on an EBT card and prorated for partial months - are administered by ARCHS and the State of Missouri in the summer for the period when schools are not in session.
The cards can be used in a variety of settings including traditional grocery stores, corner markets, large retailers, and farmer's markets.
This continues to be one of the largest demonstration projects undertaken by the USDA. Lessons learned from Missouri’s project have informed decisions at the federal level about how to best address childhood hunger during the summer months when school meals are not available.