AFT raises awareness of summer food shortage for kids

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Last summer, only 14 kids were enrolled in summer food programs for every 100 low-income students who got free or reduced-price lunches during the 2011-12 school year. That means only one in seven children who needed food over the summer were getting it, according to a new report by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

The five states missing out on the most federal money and failing to feed the most children over the summer were Texas (685,000 children), California (600,000 kids), Florida (324,000 kids), Georgia (218,000 kids) and Illinois (202,000 kids).

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"This is a sad situation for many of the children we'll see in the fall," says Ruby Newbold, president of the Detroit Association of Educational Office Employees, chair of AFT PSRP program and policy council, and an AFT vice president. "But we can turn it around by working with the community to help make sure those kids come back to us well nourished and ready to learn."

Low participation in these programs has spurred the AFT and our allies to begin raising awareness about children's food insecurity over the summer and to start engaging with community partners and state officials who can expand summer meals programs. FRAC has compiled tips on finding and keeping sponsors of summer meals programs for kids. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released guidance that trims paperwork and rules for summer food sponsors; once implemented by states, this will open doors for local governments and nonprofit organizations to feed children more easily year-round. The next reauthorization of summer nutrition programs, along with all other federal child nutrition programs, comes up in 2015.

Summer nutrition programs fit well into first lady Michelle Obama's focus on reducing childhood obesity by providing meals that meet federal nutrition standards, and by drawing children into activities that keep them moving. [Food Research and Action Center, Annette Licitra]

July 1, 2013