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Curbing Hunger One Child at a Time

Kaiser Permanente’s focus on healthy communities dovetailed with a Million Meals Summer event providing free meals for children in need. Pictured, left to right, Kaiser Permanente nurses Danelle Novales, Genevie Fletcher, Andrea Huntsinger and Trunina O’Neal.

The school year is drawing to a close for thousands of children in the Sacramento region. While many kids are looking forward to long days, fun in the sun, no homework and lots of playtime, others are worried about food.

One in five children in California may go to bed hungry each night, according to the California Association of Food Banks, and 85% of children who benefit from free or reduced-price lunches during the school year miss lunch programs available in the summer.

That’s 1.7 million children in the Golden State hungry every summer.

To address this problem and help children, Kaiser Permanente’s Nurse Scholars Academy partnered with more than 40 different community organizations from around the Sacramento region to participate in the launch of this year’s Million Meals Summer on May 22, when more than 2,000 schoolchildren were invited to a farm-to-fork style picnic on the grounds of the State Capitol that included games, activities and booths.

“My office is working with a growing coalition to feed children in the Sacramento region a million meals this summer to ensure no child goes hungry when school is not in session,” said Sacramento District 6 Sen. Richard Pan, who inspired the federally funded program.

Kaiser Permanente Helping Hungry Kids

Kaiser Permanente has been supporting Dr. Pan’s Summer Million Meals initiative with a $5,000 sponsorship since its unveiling two years ago. Eight Kaiser Permanente nurses currently enrolled in the RN to BSN program from different Kaiser Permanente hospitals across Northern California participated on May 22.

During the event, students had the opportunity to stop by the “Ask a Nurse” booth hosted by Kaiser Permanente and Samuel Merritt University. The Kaiser Permanente nurses shared nutrition education with a hands-on activity that taught children about the five different food groups and how they now can start incorporating these into their daily meals.

“We must do everything we can to ensure our young learners have happy, healthy summers so they can return to the classroom in the fall prepared and excited to learn,” said Clecel Abellanosa, a registered nurse at the Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center and Nurse Scholars Academy participant.

“We’re excited to be part of the Million Meals Summer launch,” added Alice Vestergaard, coordinator of the RN to BSN Programs at Samuel Merritt University. “But our work doesn’t end there. Once school is out, the Kaiser Permanente nurse scholars will be providing nutrition education activities at several meal sites located in the Sacramento region’s most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.”

Learn more from the California Department of Education.


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