'Food for Thought' Campaign Helps Increase Participation in Summer Feeding Program

OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 2, 2017) – Oklahoma’s participation in the federally funded Summer Food Service Program increased 14 percent this year, resulting in 1.6 million free meals for children age 18 and under between May and August.
Almost 200,000 additional meals were provided this year over last year, in part due to a public awareness campaign, #FoodforThought, created by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE).
The Summer Food Service Program, administered by OSDE's office of child nutrition, grew this year to 677 sites across the state, an increase of 5 percent.
“Our goal was to more effectively leverage federal dollars to help ensure a significantly higher percentage of our children and young people were benefiting from this free program,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “With the help of sponsors throughout Oklahoma, we were able to offer nutrition supports to thousands of families this summer, resulting in stronger bodies, greater focus and overall higher cognitive function when children returned to school this fall.”
Increasing access to child nutrition by removing barriers to participation in food programs is one of the state’s six key initiatives under Oklahoma Edge, OSDE’s eight-year strategic plan to provide Oklahoma students with a competitive edge. The agency also has set a goal of increasing the number of meals served in the summer feeding program by 30 percent by 2025.
In Oklahoma, nearly 62 percent of public school students are eligible for free- or reduced-priced lunches. Previously, only 6.4 percent of those same students took part in feeding programs during the summer months when school was not in session, ranking Oklahoma 51st in the nation.
The #FoodforThought campaign emerged from collaboration between Hofmeister and her Faith-Based Advisory Council, one of several stakeholder groups with whom the superintendent meets regularly. Sponsors for this year’s program rose 12 percent to 182, and the total number of participating schools increased 13 percent.
#FoodforThought promotional materials included postcards, posters and door hangers. Oklahoma City-based Tyler Media provided metro-area bus benches and produced radio public service announcements in English and Spanish. Bookmarks courtesy of the Metropolitan Library System were also part of the initiative. The Tulsa-area United Way and United Way of Central Oklahoma partnered with OSDE on the distribution of materials. 
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Last updated on October 2, 2017