There is a sad reality that one of every five students is hungry in our school system. As a former PTA President I know the stories first hand. I remember worrying about some of the children every Friday who were going home to empty cupboards for the weekend. An estimated 21 million students rely on free or reduced meals to fill the gaps of the nutritional needs.
With summer approaching, many communities are stepping up to help feed our children. There are two federal programs—National School Lunch Program and Summer Food Service Program—these programs provide meals to kids during the summer months, when they are at higher risk of hunger.
Imagine those children who are served a free or reduced-price school lunch during the school year without that meal during the summer.
My children and I have gone to our community’s Summer Food Service Programs. It has been a great way to extend an outing to my children and make a play date with a child we knew to be less fortunate. In Utah the program took place at a local park. It was a great afternoon where the children played, ate and connected with classmates.
While children under 18 are able to eat a sack lunch for free, adults paid a nominal fee if they opt to eat.
This summer as school lets out, learn about where these programs are in your community and share them with your neighbors and children’s friends. Volunteer, maybe or designate one day when you spend an hour for a lunch play date by picking up a child in need and taking them to one of the programs. It might just change a child’s hunger.