It’s a good question. According to the USDA, more than 22 million schoolchildren are eligible for free or reduced-price meals during the year through the National School Lunch Program, but during the summer, only 1 in 6 of those kids participate in the Summer Food Service Program. (The federal government is seeking to address that shortfall with the Seamless Summer Option, which offers local school districts a streamlined approach to feeding hungry children.)
Of course, the question of hungry kids in summer is part of a larger problem – hunger in American homes generally. A widely quoted statistic, from the Food Research & Action Center, a national advocacy group working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and undernutrition in the U.S., says that 1 in 6 families suffer from food insecurity.
Many nonprofits and advocacy groups are working to address that imbalance, in a wide range of ways.
Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals.
Feed the Children connects donors, experts, partners, leaders and communities to attack the hunger problem from all angles.
Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, with a powerful and efficient network of 200 food banks across the country.
Food and nutrition have long been issues of concerns for many Junior Leagues.
In fact, action by the Junior League of Brooklyn in successfully petitioning the New York City Board of Education led to free lunches in schools there, a program that later became the model for the National School Lunch Program.
Many other Leagues are still creating innovative ways to deal with hunger insecurity and children in their communities.
And then there’s AJLI’s Junior Leagues’ Kids in the Kitchen program, now in its 10th year, and adopted by more than 200 Junior Leagues in four countries.
By the way, if you’re looking for some healthy and nutritious kid snacks and meals from the KITK cookbook, try these!
*This article was originally published in The Civic Lede, an official publication of The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., and has been reprinted with permission. The Civic Lede spotlights notable developments in philanthropy, not-for-profits, women’s interests, voluntarism and leadership, and offers commentary on the issues on which The Junior League has been active for many years.