Giving Compass’ Take:
• Food initiatives such as food trucks with student lunches are starting in the summer now that school is out and around 30 million students rely on free lunches from schools.
• How can schools do more to support children in the summer when there are not lunches?
• Read about the bill in Washington that will put an end to school lunch shaming.
Last week, public schools across the country closed their doors for the summer. For some students, the break is a months-long period of tranquility and freedom, a long-awaited respite from the anxieties and rigidity of school days. But for many, the summer holiday is a vulnerable period of food insecurity, too.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 30 million students participate in free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL) and more than 14 million participate in free or reduced-price breakfast under the School Breakfast Program (SBP) during the school year.
That’s 30 million students who rely on their schools for at least one meal a day. But when they’re not in class, many of these students face what is known as the “summer nutrition gap”: the struggle to secure enough food when school is not in session—and one that often puts undernourished students at an academic disadvantage when they return to classrooms in the fall.
In order to address this gap, policymakers across the country have approached the issue with creative solutions and varying degrees of success. California, for instance, has mobilized its public library system to serve as meal hubs during the summer break. In Texas, the Summer Food Service Program collaborates with the statewide Farm to School Initiative to establish community gardens where children can learn about gardening and have access to local produce.
Efforts to close the summer nutrition gap are funded by USDA through a program called the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Through the SFSP, state agencies operate “sites” in conjunction with schools, camps, and non-profit and religious organizations.
Read the full article about free school lunch by Jessica Fu and Jimin Kang at The New Food Economy
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