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Tag ‘ Summer Lunch ’

Fewer Summer Meals Served Across California

Over 2 million (84 percent) of the children in California who benefitted from federally funded school meals during the academic year were not served by the federal summer meal programs in 2011. The report, School’s Out…Who Ate?, authored by California Food Policy Advocates* (CFPA), ties the elimination of summer school to the loss of affordable, nutritious meals for low-income children.

CFPA’s analysis of data provided by the California Department of Education shows that participation in federal summer meal programs has decreased by over 50 percent in just under a decade. That downward trend is driven largely by a decline in meals served by summer schools.

Beyond children’s health and development, the loss of summer meals also impacts the bottom line. As reported by the Food Research and Action Center, in Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, California missed out on an estimated $34 million in federal funding due to low participation in summer nutrition programs during July of 2011.

School’s Out… Who Ate? includes an analysis of county-level data. In July 2011, 17% and 12% of the low-income children in Contra Costa and Solano counties who participated in free or reduced-price school meal programs during the academic year were served by summer meal programs. This means Contra Costa and Solano counties has the 9th and 13th highest summer meal participation rate among California’s 58 counties.

Across the state, the federal summer meal programs reach fewer children each year and many families continue to struggle in this tough economy. Policymakers at all levels should take action to mend the widening summer nutrition gap faced by millions of low-income children in California.

*California Food Policy Advocates is a statewide policy and advocacy organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of low-income Californians by increasing their access to nutritious, affordable food.

Veggies for Everyone

We often look for other agencies to partner with in our produce distribution program while school is out, and this summer we provided food to children of migrant farm workers.

When I did my regular site visit, the program staff told me how the produce really helped out the families each week since all the families are low-income and have difficulty putting food on the table.  It made me feel really good about what we do as I saw parents returning from a long day working in the fields to pick up their children and the food we were able to provide.  I also thought of the irony that we were providing fresh fruits and vegetables to the very people who did the back breaking work to grow and pick them.  All the children in this distribution have working parents, but those parents do not earn enough to afford the very product they are producing.

We know we are doing the right thing in providing food to the people we serve, but we also know it is important for our advocacy program to focus on protecting the social service safety net.  The community needs to understand what we can do to make life better for low-income people in our neighborhood.

Children from Meadow Homes Elementary with their Farm 2 Kids produce

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