Only One in Seven Were Fed: How the Limited Reach of the Summer Nutrition Programs is Affecting Low-Income Children

– Gloria-Deo Agbasi, NASCSP –

School’s Out, Should Lunch Be Too?

School’s out and summer vacation is in full swing! Are Summer Nutrition Programs, the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), in full swing as well? Feeding low-income students should not end when school does. The need for good nutrition is never-ending. Children, who rely on NSLP during the school year, need a summer option that will supply nutritious and nourishing food. Are Summer Nutrition Programs picking up handily where NSLP left off?

Stark Statistic: Only One in Seven Students Were Fed

To answer these questions, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) reports that during the summer of 2011, only one in seven students were fed in the United States. Considering the subject matter, this is a stark statistic. With 100% of children fed as a goal, one in seven or 14% does not speak to success on any level. It speaks of a bar raised for which expectations were not met.

Effects of Poor Summer Nutrition
18 million children are at risk for going hungry during the summer months. The effects could be staggering:

  • Hunger may make children more susceptible to illness due to lack of proper nutrition.
  • Poor nutrition during summer vacation may set up a cycle for poor performance once school begins.

The nutrition gap must be bridged between the end and start of each school year. So let’s ask another question: What are some outreach suggestions that will assist Summer Nutrition Programs in meeting expectations?

Quick Start: Summer Outreach Suggestions to Use Right Now

Though summer vacation is already here, it is not too late to use these specific outreach efforts today:

Suggestions for the Upcoming School Year

Start orchestrating these outreach efforts once school resumes:

Additional Resources

To start a feeding site, contact your state’s Child Nutrition Program.

To assist children in need of food, find a community organization (faith-based programs, schools and recreation centers) offering activities. If you cannot find one, contact the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE.

We could all learn from each other. What are your ideas to ensure that seven out of seven children are fed each summer?