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Granite State Holding Steady: Getting Summer Meals to Hungry Kids

Outreach efforts are underway in the Granite State to make sure kids don't go hungry this summer. The state ranked 32nd in access to free summer food sites in a new Food Research and Action Center report. Credit: Phil Grandmaison.
Outreach efforts are underway in the Granite State to make sure kids don't go hungry this summer. The state ranked 32nd in access to free summer food sites in a new Food Research and Action Center report. Credit: Phil Grandmaison.
June 9, 2015

MANCHESTER, N.H. – As the school year draws to a close, the Granite State is getting an average grade when it comes to making sure kids don't go hungry during the summer months.

Henry Harris, community outreach director with Southern New Hampshire Services, says his group sponsored more than a dozen meal sites last summer – and their goal is to grow the program responsibly by adding a few more sites each year.

"It's a way for us to bridge the kids through the summer, so they're at least receiving a few decent meals a week, or a day," says Harris. "So they don't lose ground nutritionally, and are ready when school starts back up."

A new report from the Food Research and Action Center moved New Hampshire up a notch, from 33rd in the nation in 2013 to number 32 last year, in reaching kids with nutritious summer meals.

According to the report, on an average day last summer more than three million children around the U.S. took advantage of free lunch programs.

In southern New Hampshire, Harris says his team works by the motto, "Food that's in when school is out." They focus on utilizing sites that combine free meals along with plenty of activities.

"It's really important because a lot of kids' families are struggling," he says. "This is a nice way to be out in the community, enjoying the pools and doing stuff around the city, and then they can grab a lunch or breakfast or dinner at some of our sites."

With the renewal of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act pending in Congress, the Food Research and Action Center recommends continued investments to continue getting nutritious meals to children while they are in school.

As soon as this year's summer meal sites are finalized they will be posted on the Southern New Hampshire Services website, at www.snhs.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH