When school is out for summer too many children go hungry

Summer vacation is here, which means childhood hunger is on the rise. More than 20 million children rely on free and reduced-price breakfasts and lunches throughout the school year, and their families have to find ways to fill in the gaps over the summer.

The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program was created in 1968 to ensure that low-income children don’t go hungry in the summer months. Although the program is fully funded by the federal government, there still aren’t enough participating school and community programs to provide summer meals to all children who need them. And with other barriers, including limited hours and lack of transportation to the meal sites, many food-insecure children aren’t able to access the free summer meals.

The federal government, states and communities have been working together to remove these barriers and increase the number of meal sites, and they are making progress. Participation in the summer food program increased 7% between 2013 and 2014. Still, only one out of six children who receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year is participating in the summer food program.

Summer Food Program Participation

This week, Every Child Matters will be focusing on child nutrition and summer hunger. We’ll highlight policies and legislation seeking to end childhood hunger and share resources to help connect food-insecure families with summer food programs. Every child deserves nutritious meals, every month of the year.