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D.C. Free Summer Meals Program Tops the Charts
Program Continues Seven Year Streak of Reaching the Most Children in Nation with Summer Meals
Expanded Outreach Efforts Include New Texting Service for Summer 2011
Washington, D.C. – June 7, 2011 – The D.C. Free Summer Meals Program continues to expand its reach in providing healthy food to low-income children when school is out – and continues to top the nation in reaching eligible low-income children. In July 2010, more than 28,000 low-income children were served by the D.C. Free Summer Meals Program, according to Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation (pdf), the Food Research and Action Center’s (FRAC) latest look at participation around the nation in the Summer Nutrition Programs.
For every 100 low-income D.C. children that eat lunch during the school year, 80 children received summer meals in July 2010. Nationally, the program only reaches 15 percent of low-income children with summer meals, according to FRAC.
An increase in the number of meal sites and sponsors to operate the program last summer ensured that the District’s children had easy access to summer meals. According to D.C. Hunger Solutions Director Alexandra Ashbrook, the program is on track to see even more locations this summer.
“D.C. should be proud of its top ranking and for sustaining that ranking for seven years straight thanks to a commitment across the city to make certain children get fed healthy meals when school lets out,” said Ashbrook.
This summer D.C. Hunger Solutions is partnering with the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, DC Public Library, the Walmart Foundation, the D.C. Partnership to End Childhood Hunger (a joint effort of D.C. Hunger Solutions, Share Our Strength, and the Food Research and Action Center), and Pro Bowl Linebacker London Fletcher of the Washington Redskins and his "London's Bridge" Foundation to further expand outreach efforts by creating new outreach materials, disseminating public service announcements and launching a texting service to help families locate nearby summer meal sites. Individuals simply text 202.6565.EAT (328) to receive information on conveniently located summer meal sites.
“As a professional athlete, I know the importance of healthy eating and active living. The D.C. Free Summer Meals Program will help children and teens stay in peak condition while engaged in programming that keeps them safe, active, and learning,” said Redskins London Fletcher, a Walter Peyton NFL Man of the Year finalist. Mr. Fletcher's "London's Bridge" Foundation addresses the inequities facing underprivileged and underrepresented children through mentoring and charitable giving programs.
“The Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, fill the food gap for the thousands of low-income District children who rely on school breakfast and lunch during the school year to help keep hunger at bay. Through these programs, children, aged 18 and under, can receive free meals at participating summer sites, including all D.C. Park and Recreation Centers, many schools, libraries, faith-based organizations, and nonprofits.
“In Washington, D.C., families can find nearby summer meal sites by calling toll free 311, texting 202.6565.EAT (328) or visiting www.dcfreesummermeals.org.
About This Report
Data for Washington, D.C. came from an annual report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a national anti-hunger advocacy and research group. The FRAC report, Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation, gives data for all states and looks at national trends. The report measures participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs by comparing the number of low-income children receiving summer meals to the number of low-income children receiving school lunch during the regular school year. FRAC measures national summer 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.