Hunger Doesn’t Take a Summer Vacation
The Food Research and Action Center just released its annual report on summer hunger, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation. It measures the reach of Summer Meals programs across the United States – and highlights the number of kids still struggling with food insecurity.
What did we learn? In Washington, just 11% of students who eat free school meals accessed the Summer Meals program in 2018. Though Washington is one of the wealthiest states in the U.S., we rank 36th for connecting low-income kids to food during the summer. This means that there are more than 85,000 kids in our community who could be participating in the Free Summer Meals program, but aren’t – that’s unacceptable.
During the summer, thousands of low-income kids in our community lose access to the free school meals that they rely on during the school year. And, while the federal Summer Meals program offers free meals to youth at parks, libraries, and community centers, many kids in our community aren’t accessing this critical resource.
Why does this matter? We know that families face barriers to accessing free meals during the summer. The nearest Summer Meals site might be too far away, or a child might feel stigma accessing this free program.
United Way of King County is committed to reducing the barriers to Free Summer Meals. We work with partners in our community to adopt best practices from across the country, from high-performing states like Maine and New Mexico. This year, we’ve launched more than 20 new Summer Meals sites, expanded the number of vegetarian and halal meal options available each day, and deployed hands-on games and activities throughout our community to make sites feel more welcoming and fun.
Last year, we served more than 560,000 meals in King County, an 8% increase from 2017. But we know that there’s still plenty of work ahead of us. We have big goals this year – and we need your help to ensure that every child in our community is connected to healthy food this summer. Help us spread the word about the Free Summer Meals program! Share this post by sharing on social media (And tag @unitedwaykc. We’d love to see your posts!). Tell your friends! Visit freesummermeals.org for more information.