Baltimore, MD – June 1, 2015 – Maryland made significant strides in its efforts to reach more low-income children with summer meals in 2014, according to Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation(pdf), a report released annually by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). 59.705 low-income children were served summer meals on an average day in July 2013, an increase of 17.3 percent from last year. Summer meals reached 21.6 students for every 100 low-income children who got regular school year school meals in the 2013-2014 school year, outpacing that national rate of 16.2:100.
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 more than three million students in July of 2014, up 215,000 children or 7.3 percent from 2013. This represents the largest increase in children eating summer meals since 1993, and the third consecutive year of growth in program participation.
“It is encouraging 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. “Maryland made significant progress in 2014, and we hope for even more participation in 2015. Maryland Hunger Solutions is committed to further strengthening Maryland’s Summer Nutrition Programs to reach more children and address the needs of Maryland students.”
While participation increased nationally, 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 50,714 low-income children every day in July 2013 and brought in $3.8 million 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 Awareness Week (June 1 to 5, 2015) starts today, and aims to raise awareness of the program.
“Higher participation in summer food means more low-income children get the fuel they need to thrive over the summer months,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “That reduces hunger, boosts health, reduces obesity, and keeps children primed to learn. Congress can better meet the need through this year’s Child Nutrition Reauthorization by making strategic and thoughtful investments in the Summer Nutrition Programs that bolster their capacity to serve even more children.”
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.