During the school year, thousands of Nebraska children benefit from the National School Lunch Free and Reduced Price Meals program. This program assures that low-income kids have access to nutritious meals in schools so that they can learn and grow.
Unfortunately, hunger rates increase in the summer, especially for kids. In Nebraska, we reach just one in ten kids who participate in the free and reduced school lunch program with meals in the summertime.
At the same time, I’m happy to report that Nebraska is making progress towards ending summer hunger in several ways:
- First, a new report from the Food Research and Action Center called “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation” found that we are feeding more kids in more locations. Nebraska’s efforts have increased steadily over the last few years. In July 2011, 226 summer meals sites fed over 11,600 children.
- Second, the momentum is growing. Hunger Free Heartland and the Nebraska Department of Education Nutrition Services Department will officially kick off the summer food program at Memorial Stadium this Wednesday. If a family you know would like to participate, encourage them to call 1 (800) 731-2233 for more information.
- Third, Nebraska Appleseed was pleased to help promote LB 1090, introduced by Senator Wallman, which passed this year to provide resources to organizations setting up or expanding summer meals sites statewide. With this legislation, even more sites will serve even more kids next year.
We have a long way to go before we earn an “A+” for serving kids in the summertime, but, we are making steady gains, and we should be proud of the gains we are making in ending childhood hunger in the heartland.