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Baltimore, MD – June 2, 2014 – Maryland made significant strides in its efforts to reach more low-income children with summer meals in 2013, according to Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation(pdf), a report released annually by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). 50,902 low-income children were served summer meals on an average day in July 2013, an increase of 7.4 percent from last year. Summer meals reached 19 students for every 100 low-income children who got regular school year school meals in the 2012-2013 school year, outpacing that national rate of 15.1:100.
Maryland’s success increasing participation in Summer Nutrition Programs is reflected at the national level. The FRAC report finds that summer meal participation nationally reached nearly three million students in July of 2013, up 161,000 children or 5.7 percent from 2012. This represents the first significant increase in participation in a decade, providing welcome momentum for the Summer Nutrition Programs.
“It is promising to see an increase in the number of children being reached by the summer meals program,” said Michael J. Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions. “The progress made in 2013 is a step in the right direction, but when the school year ends, millions of children lose access to school meals, including more than 268,000 in Maryland. Maryland Hunger Solutions is committed to further strengthening Maryland’s Summer Nutrition Programs to reach more children and continue increasing participation.”
While participation increased nationally, and in Maryland, there is still room for improvement. Low participation means missed meals for children and missed dollars for the state. If Maryland were to reach 40 children with summer food for every 100 low-income children who get school lunch during the regular school year, the state would have fed an additional 56,300 low-income children every day in July 2013 and brought in $4.2million more federal dollars to do so.
Even more can be done this summer to build on last year’s progress. State and community leaders can follow the lead of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has launched an aggressive campaign to increase participation. USDA’s Summer Food Service Program Week (June 2 to 6, 2014) starts today, and aims to raise awareness of the program.
“The national increase in summer food participation is good news, but Congress will need to fix some of the underlying barriers in the 2015 Child Nutrition Reauthorization to truly repair the Summer Nutrition Programs,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “Congress needs to act to strengthen the programs so they are able to reach more low-income children, and help the program more effectively address hunger and meet increased need.”
Maryland families can find nearby summer meal sites here. New this year from USDA is “SummerFoodRocks,” a free web-based application that features a site locator and search tool, and works on devices such as iPads, iPhones, Blackberrys, and Androids. Visit www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks to locate nearby summer meal site near you. This app is available nationwide on June 2, 2014. Community organizations and advocates interested in connecting youth to free summer meals can contact Maryland Hunger Solutions at 410-528-0021.
About the report:
Data for Maryland comes from the 2014 version of the annual report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), the lead advocacy organization working to end hunger in America through stronger public policies. The FRAC report, Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation, gives data for all states and looks at national and state trends. 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 school year meals. The report is available online at www.frac.org.