Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report

Source: Mike Burke, Kate Sims, Signe Anderson, Crystal FitzSimons, and Jessie Hewins, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), June 2013

The Summer Nutrition Programs have an important role to play in supporting the health and well-being of our nation’s children. They have struggled to fill this role, providing meals to only one in seven of the low-income children who participate in the school lunch program during the regular school year. The July 2012 increase in participation, the first since 2008, may be a start toward rebuilding the Summer Nutrition Programs so they better meet the need and provide children the healthiest meals possible. There is a clear path forward to re-building the Summer Nutrition Programs. USDA’s increased focus on the Summer Nutrition Programs and its efforts to reduce administrative barriers to participate will move the programs in the right direction and should be continued. In addition, supporting sponsors’ efforts to feed children year-round will build stronger summer meal programs. And efforts to improve the nutrition quality and appeal of the meals that are served also will encourage more children to participate. All of these steps can be taken to some degree within the existing parameters of the Summer Nutrition Programs, but the impact of these efforts will be much greater if the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization includes a significant investment in the programs.