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Bill in Congress Would Address Need for Summer Meals

Families spend about $300 more each month on meals during the summer, compared with their food costs during the school year. (Aleksei Potov/Adobe Stock)
Families spend about $300 more each month on meals during the summer, compared with their food costs during the school year. (Aleksei Potov/Adobe Stock)
June 25, 2019

SEATTLE — While summer provides a break from school, it also can be a season of hunger for some kids. A bill in Congress could help address this issue.

Congressman Rick Larsen, D-Wash., is co-sponsoring the Summer Meals Act of 2019 to better integrate summer education and meals programs and help children in underserved areas access meal sites by addressing issues such as transportation.

According to Rep. Larsen, the bill would eliminate red tape for partnerships between public and private organizations, such as nonprofits.

"It isn't just a matter of ensuring we're helping provide the food, but we need to have partners in the communities to help make that happen as well,” Larsen said.

More than 380,000 kids in Washington state are in food-insecure homes, meaning they aren't sure where their next meal will come from. On average, families spend about $300 more each month on meals during the summer.

David Beard, policy and advocacy director for School's Out Washington, said summer can be a struggle for working families that typically rely on free and reduced-price meals during the school year.

"Many kids lose access to a square meal and sometimes multiple meals a day,” Beard said. “So summer becomes a very critical time for them to be able to have access to healthy foods as well as time to learn and continue growing over the summer."

A major resource for families is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program, which offers free meal sites for kids 18 years and younger. Last year, more than 930 meal sites across Washington served about 45,000 children per day.

Nearby Summer Food Service Program sites can be found on the USDA website.

Disclosure: School's Out Washington contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues, Education, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA