FRAC Report Finds Varied Performance among States and Recommends Steps to Make a Difference this Summer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Contact: Jennifer Adach, 202.986.2200 x3018
Washington, D.C. – June 8, 2012 – Fewer low-income children participated in the nation’s summer nutrition programs in July 2011 than a year earlier, according to Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation (pdf), an analysis by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Only one in seven of the low-income students who depended on the National School Lunch Program during the regular 2010-2011 school year received summer meals in July 2011.
View a map with state rankings, participation numbers and participation percentages.
The continuing fallout of the recession has not only led to lost jobs and wages and more need for nutrition support for children, but also to major cuts in summer schools and youth programs. Fewer programs for kids have meant in many states fewer sites serving summer meals. In July 2011, FRAC found that only 14.6 children received summer meals for every 100 low-income children who ate school meals during the 2010-2011 school year – a significant drop from the July 2008 ratio of 17.3:100. Put in other terms, total participation nationwide in the Summer Nutrition Programs has dropped by 112,000 children since July 2008.
“FRAC’s report shows that the recession has meant that more children are using the regular school year food programs, but budget cuts are causing school districts and youth services providers in many states to eliminate or reduce their summer programs. And that means fewer children are getting the summer meals they need to stay healthy and hunger-free,” explained FRAC President Jim Weill. “Participation in virtually every other federal nutrition program, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and school meals, has grown in recent years to meet the increased need for such help. States, cities, and schools must redouble their efforts to ensure that children don’t pay the price of missed summer meals.”
While the national participation rate fell, the performance of the Summer Nutrition Programs varied dramatically from state to state. Several states managed to increase participation in the program: Hawaii experienced a 71.1 percent increase from July 2010 to July 2011, and Louisiana saw an increase of 41.8 percent over the same time period. Florida, Kansas, Texas, and other states that conducted aggressive outreach campaigns also saw an increase in participation. But California, which traditionally had a strong summer food program, has seen participation tumble from 27.4:100 children in July 2008 to only 17:100 in July 2011.
FRAC noted that there are several steps that state agencies could take right now to address looming 2012 summer shortfalls, including:
“It is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that children have adequate nutrition during the summer so they stay healthy and are ready to learn,” said Weill.
Low participation means missed meals for children and missed dollars for states. If every state in July 2011 had reached the goal of feeding 40 children summer meals for every 100 receiving free and reduced-price lunches during the 2010-2011 school year, an additional 4.9 million children would have been fed each day, and states would have collected an additional $316 million in child nutrition funding in July.
The Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, should be filling the summer food gap for low-income children who rely on school breakfast and lunch during the school year to help keep hunger at bay. Through these programs, children (ages 18 and under) can receive free meals at participating summer sites at schools, parks, other public agencies, and nonprofits.
About the report: The Food Research and Action Center’s annual summer report, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, gives data for all states and looks at national trends. The report measures participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs by comparing the number of children receiving summer meals to the number of children receiving school lunch during the regular school year. FRAC measures national summer participation during the month of July, when typically all children are out of school throughout the month and lose access to regular year school meals. The report is available online at www.frac.org.
# # #
The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) is the lead advocacy organization working to end hunger in America through stronger public policies. For more information, visit www.frac.org. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/foodresearchandactioncenter or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/fractweets.