Thousands of children risk going hungry as a result of losing access to free and reduced-price lunches when school closes for the summer
A new report from the California Food Policy Advocates discovered that 143,097 children from low income families receive free or low price lunches throughout the school year, but over 86% of them lose access to these meals when school closes for the summer.
Author of the report, Anna Colby, stated: “Oftentimes we think about the summer as this kind of idyllic situation . . . but for a lot of low-income children, it comes with the additional burden of losing access to the support that school provides – one of them being healthy meals and adequate nutrition.”
The National School Lunch Program continues to provide free meals for children throughout the summer at a variety of sites – Orange County has 194 summer meal locations, situated at schools, libraries, and local parks.
Colby stated that many low-income children are not aware of the existence of these summer programs. “It’s more of an infrastructure issue, or an outreach issue. It’s about getting the children to these sites and making sure there are enough sites to meet the needs of our low-income children.”
Summer meal programs gradually expanding
Ellie Nedry of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County noted that Second Harvest grew from 31 locations to 50 in just four years, expanding their sites to locations like low-income apartment complexes.
“We’re trying to find out where kids are already going and adding to that,” Nedry said. The process is simple – all kids have to do to be eligible for a free meal is to show up.
“The sites are open to anyone 18 and under, and they just have to come during serving time. And they just have to eat their food there and that’s it.” Nedry concluded.