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Summer Push Underway to Get More Meals to Low-Income Kids

PHOTO: Maryland Hunger Solutions has joined several anti-hunger groups in backing federal legislation that would expand summer meal availability. Photo courtesy of USDA Summer Food Service Program.
PHOTO: Maryland Hunger Solutions has joined several anti-hunger groups in backing federal legislation that would expand summer meal availability. Photo courtesy of USDA Summer Food Service Program.
August 5, 2014

BALTIMORE - Anti-hunger organizations want next summer to be the best possible summer for low-income kids, and are backing the new federal Summer Meals Act of 2014 in order to further that goal. The bill would expand access to nutritious meals in high-poverty areas.

Maryland Hunger Solutions' director Michael J. Wilson says while the summer education gap is addressed through reading programs, learning camps and take-home study kits, that's not the only need for children when school isn't in session.

"We know there's a summer nutrition gap, and we're trying to address it by making sure especially low-income kids have an opportunity to have a summer meal," says Wilson.

During the school year, about a quarter-million Maryland children participate in the National School Lunch Program. About 51,000 receive summer meals. The Summer Meals Act bill would change eligibility for meal sites so meals could be served in areas where 40 percent of local children qualify for the National School Lunch Program, and offer transportation grants to reach children in rural areas.

Wilson says the bill has bipartisan support, and he hopes the state's congressional delegation will be co-sponsors.

"Even though Congress doesn't agree on a lot, we would hope making sure low-income kids actually get food and nutrition during the summer would be one of the things they could agree on," says Wilson.

The legislation for the Summer Meals Act would also allow for access to three meals a day instead of two.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD