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No Vacation From Hunger

School’s out, and for most kids, an entire summer of free-wheeling fun lies ahead. But for many children who rely on the National School Lunch Program during the school year, summer brings an end to those lunches and their families cannot fill the gap. For those kids, sadly, summer is a time of hunger.

How big is the problem? According to FRAC (the Food Research and Action Center), the federally funded Summer Nutrition Programs last year only fed one in seven of the low-income students who depended on the National School Lunch program during the regular school year. Even as the number of children receiving free- or reduced-price lunches during the school year increased, the number receiving summer meals decreased. Currently, approximately 20 million kids receive lunch through the federal school lunch program, but only about 3 million are fed through summer meal programs, leaving about 17 million kids without food assistance.

Recognizing this gap, the USDA is promoting a series of outreach and awareness programs, as well as volunteer efforts to reach hungry kids over the summer. Pilot programs include efforts to provide “food backpacks” for the weekend, as well as meal delivery to rural students.

What can you do to help? You can promote the National Hunger Hotline in your community to help families find local food sites: 18663HUNGRY or 18778HAMBRE. If you want to volunteer, check out   http://www.serve.gov/endhunger for volunteer opportunities. If you want to shake things up on the federal level, you can write to your congresspeople in support of funding for this program and others in the Farm Bill.  And of course, don’t forget to donate to your favorite hunger organization.

Here’s to all kids eating well this summer.

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7 Responses to No Vacation From Hunger

  1. Joe June 14, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    You know what? I love all of your posts on Jolly Tomato, but this is my favorite so far. Well done Jeanne!

    • jollytomato June 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

      Really? Better than the kids making pasta? Or the homemade marshmallows? OK, then – Thanks!

  2. Dorothy at Shockinglydelicious June 15, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    I have never thought about this problem before. Thanks for bringing it to light!

  3. Lana June 15, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    My neighbors in Mission Viejo had 7 children, five of which were in school. They barely ate anything on weekends and vacations (if I did not feed them). It broke my heart. I am glad that there are organizations pulling together to solve this problem.
    Thanks, Jeanne!

    • jollytomato June 18, 2012 at 6:56 am #

      Really puts it in perspective…Thanks, Lana!

  4. cynthia June 17, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

    My dear friend & old DC neighbor runs FRAC (Alex Ashbrook); We talk about this issue often. It’s terrible here in SF as well, where many kids qualify for free breakfast and lunch, but programs during the summer are scarce.

    • jollytomato June 18, 2012 at 6:55 am #

      Wow – didn’t know you knew Alex! Thanks for checking in, Cynthia!

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