Though many students eagerly await summer, millions of children in America may be dreading summertime because it means long, hot days without enough food. Nationally, more than 22 million children receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program during the school year. But when school is out during the summer, less than 4 million receive meals through the USDA Summer Food Service Program.
Feeding America’s latest research study, Map the Meal Gap 2017, recently found that millions of Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to afford enough food and groceries to feed themselves and their families. The study, which reports on the cost of food and level of food insecurity at both the county and congressional district level in the United States, also determined that county-level child food-insecurity rates across the nation range from a high of 41% to a low of 6%.
“Hunger deprives kids of more than just food. It limits their ability to reach their full potential. On empty stomachs, kids don’t have the energy to focus, learn and grow,” said Vermont Foodbank CEO, John Sayles. “Here in Vermont, 33,900 children face hunger. When they lose access to school meals during the summer months, it puts a tremendous burden on their families who might be struggling financially. At the Vermont Foodbank, we’re committed to ensuring that kids have access to the food they need year round, because summer should be fun and enriching for everyone.”
To combat summer hunger, the Vermont Foodbank is distributing food to 225 food shelves and meal sites throughout the state. The Vermont Foodbank’s gleaning program is busy in the farm fields harvesting fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste, and instead ensuring they make it onto the plates of Vermonters who could not otherwise afford them. Additionally the Vermont Foodbank’s VeggieVanGo program distributes fresh produce to families with children during the summer months and throughout the year.
The Vermont Foodbank encourages everyone to donate, advocate and volunteer to address child hunger in the community. To learn more about hunger in Vermont, visit www.vtfoodbank.org.