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District Brings Summer Lunches to Hungry Students

Many K-12 students stop getting free lunch after summer starts. 

A piece in CNNMoney reports that 21.7 million American students receive reduced-price or free lunch in the school year, with many advocates and government leaders saying that this benefit needs to go into the summer months as well. 

"In the summer, when those school meals disappear, children find themselves hungry and with few options," said Duke Storen, one of the senior directors at the anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength.

"It impacts their health and well-being and contributes to learning loss."

A major issue is access. Meal sites provide a way to account for the food eaten by students, and all meal sites must go through an approval process. Since most of these locations are school cafeterias, this is a non-issue during the school year, but during the summer when buses and other services aren’t running at full capacity, students can’t get to meal sites as easily. Other issues such as inner-city violence, poverty, and climate issues also act as factors that can keep kids away from free-meal programs during the summer, the article said. 

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is taking action with its GrubUp program, which starting this summer brings meals to 34 pools, libraries, playgrounds, and even more locations via food truck in addition to the 70 recreation centers and camps it was already serving. The truck is due to cover city events that draw in young children. 

"Where we can find the kids, we are going to take the meals to them," said director of Pittsburgh's parks and recreation department Jim Griffin.

The article highlighted another effort, called the Kids Cook program, that has out-of-school students make healthy meals and treats to take home and eat. Coming from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, this program, along with the expanded GrubUp program and other efforts, will increase students fed this summer by an estimated 10 percent, or a total of 7,600, meaning that three out of 10 Pittsburgh kids enrolled in the regular free or reduced-price lunch program during the school year will get meals through the initiatives. 

According to USDA department administrator Audrey Rowe, they’re currently working to expand summer meals program with similar strategies involving meal site expansion approval in coordination with lawmakers.  

For more, see the full story here


Article by Jason Papallo, Education World Social Media Editor
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