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For Some California Kids, Hunger Doesn't Take Summer Vacation

GRAPHIC: A new report on Summer Nutrition Programs shows California and several other states doing a better job of helping kids stay nourished and healthy while school is out for the summer. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture.
GRAPHIC: A new report on Summer Nutrition Programs shows California and several other states doing a better job of helping kids stay nourished and healthy while school is out for the summer. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture.
July 15, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO - School may be out for the summer, but hunger doesn't take a vacation.

A new report from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) finds more low-income California kids are now getting meals during the summertime which they ordinarily would receive when school is in session. The Summer Nutrition Status Report found last summer marked the first major increase in 10 years.

The news may be an improvement, but Patrice Chamberlain, director of the California Summer Meal Coalition, says more needs to be done to close the hunger gap.

"Of 21 million kids in California and across the nation that get the free or reduced-priced lunches during the school year, only three million of those kids are participating in a summer meal program."

The report from the Food Research and Action Center shows California's participation in Summer Nutrition Programs jumping from 17th to 15th place among states with a 12 percent increase in 2013.

Signe Anderson with FRAC says one way to increase those numbers further is with greater school involvement during the summertime.

"During the economic downturn, a lot of schools shut their doors and no longer offered summer school," says Anderson. "So with that, summer meals disappeared because meal programs are often set up in conjunction with summer school programs. If there's funding available for summer school or just summer programming in general, that would go a long way."

Anderson says her organization woulds also like to see more involvement from local municipalities and city parks and recreation departments, along with local YMCA chapters and Boys and Girls Clubs.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA