Special Blog Post By: Cindy McCown, Vice President of Community Engagement and Policy
For some kids, summer means going on vacation, attending specialized camps and participating in other enrichment activities. I was one of those kids who got to go on a family vacation and attend camp every summer. I never once questioned where my next meal would come from. As I grow in my knowledge about the issue, I came to appreciate that I did not have that stress or worry of not knowing where my next meal would come from.
Thousands of kids in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties won’t have access to the free and reduced-priced meals they rely on during the school year. Making sure that kids have enough healthy food to thrive during the summer can be difficult for families already struggling to put food on the table.
According to California Food Policy Advocates, during the school year approximately 70% of low-income students are reached by school lunch. During the summer months, only about 17.9% in San Mateo County and 11.5% in Santa Clara County of eligible kids get those meals. Second Harvest Food Bank is taking a leadership role in working closely with a wide range of community-based public and private organizations to create a network of summer feeding sites where kids can get free meals and connect families to other food resources.
Summer nutrition plays a role in academic achievement and health. According to the Food Research & Action Center’s Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report, the lack of nutrition and summer enrichment programs can result in negative health and development outcomes for children, including weight gain and “summer slide” in learning. Summer Hunger is Too Expensive to Ignore provides an analysis of the hidden toll summer hunger takes on America’s children and our economy.