“DESOTO—The Islamic Relief USA’s summer feeding program is being made possible a little closer to home this year since the organization awarded a $10,000 grant to a local group – the Family Joint Venture Foundation (FJV).
The grant is to help feed children during the summer, as part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program.
Many children experience hunger, or at the very least, food insecurity and FJV would like that to end. For the most part it is because children lack access to lunches during the summer they would have received while attending school.
Fortunately, with the grants provided by Islamic Relief USA, children under the age of 18 are eligible. To qualify they must come from low-income households and receive or reduced-price lunch during the school year.
As a result, the Family Joint Venture Foundation was among those organizations that applied and was successful in receiving the grant. Their goal is for area youth to continue to have access to a nutritious mid-day meal during their summer breaks.
“It’s a blessing working with Islamic Relief USA. The supplemental funding provided by them enables the kids to take fresh fruit and veggies home. We were able to feed more children than we normally do. We are very grateful,” said Toni Granger, executive director of FJV Foundation.”
There were originally 10 organizations in the running for the grant and Syed M. Hassan, Public Affairs/Media Specialist, Islamic Relief USA said “This program is invaluable, in that it provides nutritious meals to children at a young age. They learn the importance of good eating habits, and how it positively impacts their health. Being able to help those children who would otherwise not have access to such foods is truly rewarding for all involved.”
A total of 1,700 kids are provided these meals, both during school and breakfast over a 52-day period.
The grant helps pay for the food costs of the program, as well as transportation, equipment and staff pay. Each program has its own menu. It varies by site. In the case of FJV program, it is for breakfast and snacking as well.
The program started on June 4 and will end August 14, 2018.
FJV has summer feeding programs in 25 different sites. All the foods are prepared in FJV’s commercial kitchen in DeSoto.
“Many of the meals are taken to far-flung, rural areas in Navaro and Johnson Counties,” Hassan said. “In DeSoto, the site where the summer feeding program takes place is WeeCare Recreational Center. Other locations include the Lancaster Recreational Center.”
Working in the area since 2011, the Islamic Relief USA adheres to the USDA’s idea to encourage summer meal programs like the ones supported by Islamic Relief USA, with healthy lunches that include fresh fruits, whole grains, colorful vegetables, proteins such as lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.
Naeem Muhammad, U.S. programs manager for Islamic Relief USA concluded. “There are so many children receiving at least one meal during the school year. We continue that service during the summer. These grants, in coordination with the sites of the program, make it possible to continue providing nutritious meals to those kids during their summer vacations, and they also provide communities some peace of mind. We are committed to continuing this program in the future.”
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