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Summer Nutrition Programs Helping More Nevada Kids

PHOTO: Summer nutrition programs funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are helping more children in Nevada, but a new report says the state still ranks low in terms of participation compared to other states. Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture.
PHOTO: Summer nutrition programs funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are helping more children in Nevada, but a new report says the state still ranks low in terms of participation compared to other states. Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture.
June 3, 2015

RENO, Nev. - More children in Nevada and around the United States are benefiting from the Agriculture Department's Summer Nutrition Programs, and that's expected to be the case this summer as well.

According to a new report from the Food Research and Action Center, more than 13,000 kids in Nevada were served a free meal each day last summer, reflecting a 32 percent increase from the year before. Jocelyn Lantrip, marketing director for the Food Bank of Northern Nevada, said part of the increase is linked to delivering meals to children.

"A lot of the sites are parks and some are libraries; some are even apartment complexes," she said. "We do a lot of this model, where we're driving trucks around and serving kids right out of the trucks."

Lantrip said the report also shows 212 summer meal sites in Nevada last year, up 21 percent from 2013.

Nationally, the research said, more than 3 million children participated in Summer Nutrition Programs in July 2014, up 7 percent over the previous year.

Despite the increase, Nevada ranks 46th in the nation for Summer Nutrition Program participation. Lantrip said the key to growing the numbers seems to be connecting families with the program.

"The biggest challenge, I believe, is getting the word out and letting people know that there isn't any paperwork to do, that the children can show up and eat a lunch," she said. "They don't need to be pre-qualified because their neighborhood is qualified."

Lantrip said she is hopeful that Congress will reauthorize funding for the nutrition programs later this year because the Food Research and Action Center report shows they are working to reduce hunger.

The report is online at frac.org.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV