Kids Go Hungry Over the Summer When School Is Out: What You Can Do

federal and food banks help kids eat lunches over the summer when there are no school meals
Summer vacation is usually thought about as a time when kids rejoice since they no longer have classes to attend, and they are free to enjoy the warm weather, play, and have fun with their friends. For many children, however, summer vacations can actually be a time when they don’t have enough food to eat and go hungry. Children who take part in the federal nutrition programs at school rely on these meals to stay well-fed. For a lot of students, these are the only meals they receive during the day. When school is out, the meals they relied on to fill their stomachs are no longer served.

How bad is it? According to the Food Research and Action Center in their Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report (2012), only one out of seven children who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches also gets a free meal during the summer months. In other words, six out of seven kids who usually have a meal provided to them at school aren’t getting one during the summer. While some of these children may be getting food in other ways, many aren’t, and those who are may be getting much less nutritionally balanced food over the summer.

There are couple of federal government programs which attempt to help children get meals during the summer months. They are the National School Lunch Program and Summer Food Service Program, but they don’t always reach all the kids out there. So, the question becomes, what can you do?

First and foremost, make the effort to contact your local food bank to see if there’s a way that you can directly help with this problem. Many food banks have developed programs they implement over the summer when they know kids won’t be getting the meals they usually get at school. If your local food bank has one of these in place, support it with a money or food donation. Even if they don’t, a donation to your local food bank can still help as they often see an influx of new people over the summer because kids aren’t getting food at school.

Also, take the time to contact your local city to find out what federal or local programs have been set up in your area for kids in need of food. Be sure to pass this information on to those families you know may be in need. No child should have to spend their summer worrying about where he or she will get their next meal instead of enjoying all the fun summer has to offer.

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture)

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