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Summer Meal Programs, SNAP Fighting Childhood Hunger in ND

Nearly half of SNAP recipients are children. The program is especially important during the summer when school is out. (brandimarkham/Twenty20)
Nearly half of SNAP recipients are children. The program is especially important during the summer when school is out. (brandimarkham/Twenty20)
June 18, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. — Summertime can mean children have limited access to food. The United States Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program sponsors sites across North Dakota to provide children with meals.

Karen Ehrens, a registered dietitian and facilitator of Creating a Hunger Free North Dakota Coalition, said the state's Department of Public Instruction is making a concerted effort to increase the number of summer meal sites. She said another critical anti-hunger program is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.

"That it's there in the summer is also important or even more important when the resources of school breakfast, school lunch, sometimes the fruit and vegetable snack program at meals isn't operating or available,” Ehrens said. “SNAP provides the resources to parents to help them get food to their children."

One in 14 North Dakotans relies on SNAP benefits to put food on the table. Nearly half of recipients in the state are children.

Individuals receive about $4 per day from the program to spend on meals.

With Congress currently debating the 2018 Farm Bill, SNAP funding is a hot topic. Ehrens said she and other anti-hunger advocates have been watching the debate closely.

"We breathed a sigh of relief that the Senate version of the Farm Bill is much more solid and supports SNAP more so than the House version of the bill did,” she said.

The Senate is expected to vote on the Farm Bill before the July 4 recess.

A House version of the bill failed in May. That bill would have imposed strict work restrictions on SNAP recipients. About 80 percent of families receiving SNAP benefits have one or more family members who work.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND