USDA officials visit Pine Ridge's summer meal program - KOTA Territory News

USDA officials visit Pine Ridge's summer meal program

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Thirty-one million kids eat school lunch in this country and 21 million of them are on reduced or free lunch, but what happens to those students when it's summer time? The United State's Department of Agriculture's officials are answering this question by increasing funding for summer meal programs. The Pine Ridge School in Pine Ridge was visited Monday by USDA officials in an effort to expand access to healthy and nutritious meals for children during the summer months.

Carly Brewer, a Pine Ridge student, says her and her sister benefit from these summer time meals at her school. "I like coming here every day, I actually get to bring my sister," said Brewer.
 
Tom Conroy, school board chairman, says the numbers of students they serve shows how much the program is needed. "At least 100 students take part in this program and that's on a daily basis," said Conroy. "Budget wise we were not able to get that support and funding until they came through."

That support came from the USDA increasing the number of meals they provide nation wide. This year's goal is 10 million more meals served than last year.

Darlene Barnes, food and nutrition services administrator for the USDA says they are partnering with schools and other entities that provide summer meal programs. "Working with our State and tribal partners we are able to administer all the nutrition assistance programs provided through the USDA," said Barnes.
 
 Last year, the USDA's summer meals programs saw a historic increase of seven million meals served nation wide compared to the summer before which exceeded its target number of five million meals.

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