Washington D.C. Remains First in the Nation for Reaching Children with Summer Meals
For Immediate Release
Contact: Sara McGovern, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-640-1089
Washington, D.C. – June 1, 2015 – The District of Columbia continues to rank first in the nation for reaching low-income children with summer meals. According to Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation (pdf), an annual analysis by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), 24,683 low-income children received summer meals on an average day in July 2014 -- an increase of 3.4 percent from the previous summer. Summer meals reached 59 students for every 100 low-income children who got school lunch in the 2013-2014 school year, outpacing that national rate of 16.2:100.
The D.C. Free Summer Meals Program, administered locally by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), provides children and teens with healthy meals and snacks during the summer months. Efforts to increase the number of meal sites, conduct outreach to families, and increase public knowledge of the Free Summer Meals Program have all served to increase participation. A driving factor in DC’s top national ranking is the commitment of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, the city’s leading sponsor with more than 200 sites across the city that connect thousands of children each day to healthy meals.
“D.C. should be proud of its top ranking and the commitment the city has shown to providing children with the summer nutrition they need to stay healthy and help prevent summer learning loss.” said Alex Ashbrook, director of D.C. Hunger Solutions. “D.C. Hunger Solutions is committed to working with District leaders to further strengthen the District’s Summer Nutrition Programs to ensure there are enough summer sites to reach more children and continue increasing participation.”
Even more can be done this summer to build on last year’s progress. Local leaders can follow the lead of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has launched an aggressive campaign to increase participation. USDA’s Summer Food Awareness Week (June 1 to 5, 2015) starts today, and aims to raise awareness of the program.
“Higher participation in summer food means more low-income children get the fuel they need to thrive over the summer months,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “That reduces hunger, boosts health, reduces obesity, and keeps children primed to learn. Congress can better meet the need through this year’s Child Nutrition Reauthorization by making strategic and thoughtful investments in the Summer Nutrition Programs that bolster their capacity to serve even more children.”
Community organizations and advocates interested in connecting youth to free summer meals can contact D.C. Hunger Solutions at 202-640-1088.
About the report:
Data for Washington D.C. came from an annual report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), the lead advocacy organization working to end hunger in America through stronger public policies. The FRAC report, Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation, gives data for all states and looks at national trends. FRAC measures national summer lunch participation during the month of July, when typically all children are out of school throughout the month and lose access to school meals. The report is available online at www.frac.org.