St. Louis, MO, June 15, 2017 --(PR.com
)-- Missouri ranks 42nd on a new report, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, from the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC, a national anti-hunger advocacy group). The report ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs.
When school lets out, millions of low-income children lose access to the school meals and healthy afterschool snacks they receive during the regular school year. The Summer Nutrition Programs help fill this gap by providing free meals and snacks that meet federal nutrition standards to children who might otherwise go hungry.
The report measures participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, at the national and state levels. During July 2016, the program served 3 million children each day throughout the country - 4.8 percent fewer children than were served in the previous summer. During the same period, the programs served 35,208 children per day in Missouri, 7.4 percent more children than were served in the previous summer.
“While we are thrilled to see efforts to increase access to summer meals paying off, the 2016 data illustrates that we still have much work to do to ensure that all Missouri children have access to nutritious meals during the summer months,” said Sunny Schaefer, Executive Director of Operation Food Search. “Our agency will continue to test and implement innovative concepts, as well as seek unique partnerships to increase summer meal access in communities where children need it the most. By increasing our mobile summer meals program from eight locations served by one van to 33 locations served by a fleet of three mobile meals vans, we hope to reach more children in the St. Louis region this summer with delicious, healthy meals.”
Summer meals participation is measured in the report, not just in absolute numbers, but also by comparing the number of children receiving summer meals to the number of low income children receiving school lunch during the regular school year. By this measure, less than 1 in 10 children in Missouri who needed summer nutrition received it in 2016. If Missouri reached FRAC’s ambitious, but achievable, goal of 40 children receiving summer meals in July 2016 for every 100 receiving free or reduced-price lunch during the 2015–2016 school year, an additional 109,303 children would have been fed each day, and our state would have collected another $8 million in child nutrition funding in July alone (assuming the programs operated 20 days).
Summer meals are provided at local sites in Missouri such as schools, recreation centers, libraries, churches, and parks for children ages 18 and under. Not only do children stave off hunger as a result of free summer meals, they also benefit from the enrichment activities offered at the vast majority of sites - activities that keep them learning, engaged, and better prepared to return to the classroom in the fall.
Founded in 1981, Operation Food Search (OFS) is a hunger relief organization that provides food and nutrition education. With a strategic focus aimed at ending childhood hunger, OFS empowers families with a range of programs and services proven to reduce food insecurity and increase access to healthy and affordable food.
OFS helps feed more than 200,000 individuals on a monthly basis – one-third of which are children – through a network of 330 community partners in 31 Missouri and Illinois counties. Operation Food Search is located at 1644 Lotsie Blvd. For more information, call (314) 726-5355.