Wednesday, July 29, 2009

1 in 6 low-income children missing out on free summer meals

How is it that food stamp numbers continue to rise, yet only one in six low-income children participates in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to receive free meals throughout the summer?

According to a recent FRAC report, it is harder to reach our children in the summer months, and Congressional measures over the years have resulted in reducing the number of communities eligible to participate, eliminating start-up and expansion funding, and lowering reimbursement rates. These critical cuts decreased both the number of sponsors and Summer Food sites.

In 2008, only 10 states reached at least one quarter of their low-income children through the SFSP. And although PA has the 13th highest participation in the program in 2008, we still only served 24.8 children through Summer Food out of every 100 children enrolled in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) during the school year.

“Not only are states with low Summer Nutrition participation rates failing to provide for their low-income children, they are missing out on the millions of dollars in federal funds that exist to provide healthy foods for these children.” (page 2) Pennsylvania could receive over $4.9 million if they serve 40 children in Summer Food to every 100 children enrolled in the NSLP.

Advocates must reach out to communities with low participation rates, and Congress must pass child nutrition reauthorization bills to make the SFSP more effective and restore the cuts previously made —now, when the need and numbers are at an all time high, we must get all children fed in the summer.

To read the full report, click Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation.

To view a map of Summer Food sites throughout Allegheny County, click here.

No comments: