A sunny summer day at Baltimore’s CC Jackson Recreation Center means it’s a perfect opportunity for the kids who attend camp there to run around and stay active outside throughout the day.
But, with the heat beating down, it also means the kids need to hydrate and refuel with a nutritious meal and healthy snacks.
Enter the American Dairy Association North East and its partner the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), who help provide these kids and kids all over the region with free meals as part of the Summer Meals program.
Summer Meals is a free program that provides healthy breakfasts and lunches to children under 18 throughout the country.
“For us, it’s about celebrating summer but also having an understanding of what our communities need, and, specifically what the children of our communities need,” said Patricia Dombroski, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director for the USDA, said while attending a recent Baltimore Summer Meals event. “Events, promotions and initiatives like Summer Meals really help push the need into the spotlight and raise the awareness.”
The USDA plays an integral role in the Summer Meals program is it provides funding critical to delivering the meals to locations that are easily accessible for kids. The USDA also provides any needed technical assistance, including the online Summer Meals location finder.
“We come in with a goal of doing whatever we can to cultivate partnerships in order to meet the needs of the community,” Dombroski said. “That is where the partnership the American Dairy Association North East comes into play. We team to provide kids like the ones here today in Baltimore with a healthy meal that includes dairy.”
For Dombroski and her team at the USDA, the effect of these kinds of events and this type of initiative is not lost.
“We absolutely love coming out to events like the one here today,” she said. “It’s very rewarding to us to see first-hand how we all come together and make this important initiative a success.”
American Dairy Association North East is one of 16 state and regional promotion organizations working under the umbrella of the United Dairy Industry Association. It is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. For more information, visit www.americandairy.com.