During July 2016, Summer Nutrition Program participation in Kansas grew 10.4 percent according to a new report, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, from the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). Throughout the summer, over 1.3 million meals were served in Kansas.
Each summer, nearly 190,000 Kansas children lose access to the free or reduced-price meals they receive during the regular school year. The Summer Nutrition Programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, help fill this gap by providing free, healthy meals to children who might otherwise go hungry.
Kansas ranks 45th for participation in Summer Nutrition Programs. FRAC’s report ranks all 50 states and D.C., and this is the first time Kansas is ranked better than 48th since 2013.
Though Kansas’s Summer Nutrition Program participation grew, only nine children received a summer lunch for every 100 who received a free or reduced-price lunch during the 2015-2016 school year.
The report highlights the work of Kansas Appleseed and the Kansas State Department of Education to expand the program to 16 new counties by identifying gaps in service areas, convening partners and promoting best practices. Additionally, Kansas was one of three states selected by the National League of Cities and FRAC in spring 2016 to participate in an initiative to increase summer and afterschool meals participation.
“The Summer Food Service Program is critical to fighting childhood hunger in Kansas, and we know that every new site means fewer hungry kids in a community,” said Rebekah Gaston, Childhood Hunger Initiative director at Kansas Appleseed, a statewide policy advocacy organization. “We’re incredibly proud of the dedicated leaders in communities across the state who have worked so hard to ensure that nutritious meals are accessible to children. As a state, we should celebrate that the Summer Nutrition Programs reached more kids in 2016, but we should also keep working to expand the program for the tens of thousands of children we didn’t reach.”
Summer meals are provided at local sites such as schools, recreation centers, libraries, YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, churches, parks and more for all children, regardless of income, ages 18 and under. Enrichment activities are also offered at many meals locations, keeping children engaged and prepared to return to the classroom in the fall. To locate a site, visit www.KansasKidsTable.org.
Read Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation in full.