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More than 1,200 missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: A pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; and concerns that proposed changes to 'Green Card' rules favor the wealthy.

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Success in MD for Bridging the Summer 'Nutrition Gap'

PHOTO: Maryland served nutritious meals to about 51,000 low-income students a day last summer, and hunger groups hope to reach more this summer. Photo credit: Maryland Partnership to End Childhood Hunger.
PHOTO: Maryland served nutritious meals to about 51,000 low-income students a day last summer, and hunger groups hope to reach more this summer. Photo credit: Maryland Partnership to End Childhood Hunger.
June 2, 2014

BALTIMORE – Summer learning loss is well known among educators, but there's also a slide in nutrition that begins when the school doors close – and low-income children are most affected.

It's the impetus behind the Summer Nutrition Program, and a report released today by the Food Research and Action Center shows Maryland reached about 51,000 low-income students a day last year, an increase of more than 7 percent.

Michael J. Wilson, executive director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, says good food and a good education go hand-in-hand in helping students succeed.

"So, while we're trying to help school districts and schools address the education gap, we also want to address the nutrition gap by providing summer meals – particularly for low-income kids," he says.

The report found that 19 out of every 100 low-income children in Maryland who receive school meals during the year also accessed summer meal programs.

The national rate was lower. The goal is to reach 40 percent of low-income students.

Summer meals include breakfast, lunch and morning and afternoon snacks, and are offered in parks, recreation centers and in neighborhoods with higher percentages of low-income households.

FRAC President Jim Weill says nearly 3 million children were served nationwide in 2013 – about 160,000 more than in 2012.

"It's a hopeful message, that we can grow this program,” he says. “All the evidence is that hunger, food insecurity, spikes during the summer for kids, and it's because the kids don't have regular-year school meals. And summer food programs are the answer to that."

Summer meals sites and schedules are online on the Maryland State Department of Education website and by calling 1-877-731-9300, or using a free app – search for Summer Food Rocks.



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