Free Nutrition Programs for Children and Families
The key to good health is traced back to the minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that are provided in the food that we consume daily. Children are at risk of hunger or obesity every day without proper nutrition. Thanks to programs that support schools and families, children are able to eat healthy and affordable food morning, noon, and night. Local and nationwide community organizations help provide assistance to schools and families through community gardens, educations, and utilizing local produce. Federal and state programs are also providing widespread assistance.
Mothers and Babies:
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): This Special Supplemental Nutrition Program provides grants to states from the Federal government. Supplemental foods, nutritional education, and health care referrals are provided. Low income women who are pregnant or have a child up to age 5 may apply. http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/women-infants-and-children-wic
- WIC Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program: This program benefits women, infants, and children with healthcare referrals and education on nutrition at no cost. The demographic for the program is low income women who are pregnant and post-partum, infants, and children up to age 5. This program helps proved fresh and locally grown fruits and vegetables to those in the WIC program, while expanding education and resources of farmer’s markets. You can even use this program if you are awaiting WIC certification. http://www.fns.usda.gov/fmnp/wic-farmers-market-nutrition-program-fmnp
- School Breakfast Program: Cash assistance is provided to states to help fund non-profit breakfast programs in schools and childcare programs. Any child at a participating school can purchase a meal through the School Breakfast Program. Families with lower income are eligible for reduced cost or free meals. http://www.fns.usda.gov/sbp/school-breakfast-program-sbp
- National School Lunch Program: This federal meal program assists children of all types of income in public schools, non-profit schools, and residential child care institutions. This program works the same way as the Breakfast program, with lunches provided to all students, but discounts are provided to those below the poverty level. Fresh produce and whole grains have been implemented into the school system to promote healthy eating and connect with local farmers. Team Nutrition USDA also provides schools with training and assistance to help food services in schools prepare healthy meals and education on nutrition. After school snacks are also provided to all students with prices varying on income. http://www.fns.usda.gov/nslp/national-school-lunch-program-nslp
- Special Milk Program: Not all schools and childhood institutions provide Federal meal programs. This program provides milk to the children outside of other meal programs and reimburses schools for the milk served. Schools that participate in the School Breakfast Program and School Lunch Program are also eligible for the Milk Program. http://www.fns.usda.gov/smp/special-milk-program
Families and Community:
- Summer Food Service Program: Low income children still need meal assistance even when school is out. The USDA helps provide meals to children under the age of 18 in need of dietary assistance. You can find summer meal programs around the country by visiting http://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks and receive more information about this food program at http://www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp/summer-food-service-program-sfsp.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): This program is one of the most well known in helping families afford groceries. The Food and Nutrition Service works with each state and services around the country to provide nutritional assistance to low income individuals and families. The program also helps to create awareness and provide educational resources. .http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program: Produce is vital for children in maintaining a healthy diet. This program helps introduce children to various fruits and vegetables, healthier snack choices, and education on combatting obesity. http://www.fns.usda.gov/ffvp/fresh-fruit-and-vegetable-program
- Child and Adult Care Food Program: Adult centers, child care centers, afterschool care, and emergency shelters use this program to provide healthy foods, education, and further the well-being of the individual. http://www.fns.usda.gov/cacfp/child-and-adult-care-food-program
- Emergency Food Assistance Program: The U.S. Department of Agriculture assists the dietary needs of low income families with emergency food assistance for free. Household material sheets are also made available to help families find all of the items they need. http://www.fns.usda.gov/tefap/emergency-food-assistance-program-tefap