For every seven low-income students who depended on the National School Lunch Program during the regular 2011-2012 school year, only one child received summer meals in July 2012. This disappointing news was reported in the June 2013 Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, an annual analysis by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). The report’s conclusion: the nation’s Summer Nutrition Programs continue to fall short of their goal to curb summer hunger.
Although 2012 did mark the first increase in summer food participation since 2008, serving lunch to 2.8 million children on an average July weekday, the increase was small – 13,000 more children participated in July 2012 than in July 2011. This slight increase (0.5%) was not enough to reverse three years of declining participation. By 2012, 99,000 fewer children were participating in the Summer Nutrition Programs than in 2008.
“This bump-up in summer food participation is encouraging, but it’s not enough,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “Participation in virtually every other federal nutrition program . . . has grown significantly in recent years to meet the increased need for help created by the economy. We know that children are hungrier and eating less healthily in the summer. They are paying a large price for missed summer meals.”
Low participation means missed meals for children and missed dollars for states. FRAC reported that if every state in July 2012 had reached the goal of feeding 40 children Summer Nutrition for every 100 receiving free and reduced-price lunches during the 2011-2012 school year, an additional five million children would have been fed each day, and states would have collected an additional $352 million in child nutrition funding in July alone.
The FRAC report serves as a good reminder that just because it’s summer and school is out for most kids, it’s all the more reason to step up and offer Summer Nutrition Programs. E S Foods can help you keep summer simple with our shelf-stable, grab ‘n’ go meals. See our summer foodservice page for solutions.