Ahh, summertime. For me, summertime in Nebraska brings back memories of swimming lessons, playing with kittens, and eating picnics of sandwiches, peaches and popsicles on our front porch. Unfortunately, for too many kids in Nebraska, summertime is a time of hunger, rather than one of carefree days and picnic meals.
According to a new report, “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report 2010″ Nebraska reached only 1 in 10 low income children in our state with meals during the summer. In other words, of the kids that access free and reduced price lunch during the school year, only one in ten receive meals through the Summer Food Service Program – the program meant to stave off hunger for kids during the summer. Paradoxically, this results in hunger for some kids, and more weight gain for other children that eat lower-quality, less expensive foods instead of the nutritious meals they receive in school. And, this year, the recession has meant that there is growing need for summer food assistance. The Lincoln Journal Star ran this story: “Report: Fewer summer meals programs in time of greater need” , which outlines the experiences of families in Nebraska and across the nation.
Fortunately, Congress has an opportunity with Child Nutrition Reauthorization to ensure that millions of children in this country, particularly low-income children, have consistent access to nutritious food. Rule changes expanding the eligibility for communities to access the Summer Food Service program could help our state serve thousands more children. Additional changes, such as implementing a nationwide after school meals program, could help serve children during other out-of-school periods as well. See details about the potential for positive legislative change from our friends at the Food Research and Action Center.
So what can you do? We need organizations to SIGN ON here to a memo supporting a robust child nutrition reauthorization bill. The sign-on deadline is July 23.
THANK YOU for supporting the vision of summertime as a time of fun and sun, not a time of hunger, for children.