Participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs improved for the second year in a row in Vermont, with 6,800 low-income children receiving summer meals on an average day in July 2012, according to a new national report released. Hunger Free Vermont noted that despite the increase from the previous July, summer meals only reached 1 in 5 of the number of children who got regular school meals in the 2011-2012 school year. Despite this gap, however, Vermont is ranked 4th in the nation for feeding children with summer meal programs—up from 11th in the national rankings in 2010 and 6th in 2011.
Hunger Free Vermont works with the Vermont Agency of Education to expand the Summer Nutrition Programs designed to fill the food gap when school is out, fight hunger, and contribute to better nutrition for children during the summer. In addition to improving in the national rankings, in 2012 Vermont saw the biggest percentage increase of any state in new Summer Food Service Program sponsors (34) and new summer sites (54).
“We are pleased to see more programs serving children this summer at over 230 sites across Vermont,” says Marissa Parisi, Executive Director of Hunger Free Vermont, “but still only 6,800 of the 37,000 children who receive free and reduced priced meals during the school year have access to meals and enrichment activities in the summer. It is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that children have adequate nutrition during the summer so they stay healthy and are ready to learn.”
Vermont’s performance was better than the national rate, which reached only one in seven low-income children, according to Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, an annual analysis by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). The report measures participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs by comparing the number of children receiving summer meals to the number of low-income children receiving school lunch during the regular school year.
Low participation means missed meals for children and missed dollars for the state. If Vermont were to reach 40 children with summer food for every 100 low-income children who get school lunch during the regular school year, an attainable goal, Vermont would have fed 3,728 more children every day in July 2012 and brought in $260,336 more federal dollars to do so.
The Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, should be filling the food gap for the thousands of low-income children in Vermont who rely on school breakfast and lunch during the school year to help keep hunger at bay. Through these programs, children, aged 18 and under, can receive free meals at participating summer sites at schools, parks, other public agencies, and nonprofits. In Vermont families can find nearby summer meal sites by texting “mealsVT” to the number 877-877, calling the United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline, or visiting www.VermontFoodHelp.com.
To celebrate the importance of summer meals, all media is invited to the Milton School District’s 2nd Annual Summer Food Kickoff on Friday, June 21st at 11:30am. Kids will enjoy a carnival-style celebration and Steve Marinelli, the Milton Food Service Director who was invited twice this spring to the White House to plant and harvest the White House garden with First Lady Obama and 5 of his students, will be in attendance.
For more information call or email: Dorigen Keeney, Executive Director at Hunger Free Vermont, at 865-0255 or DKeeney@hungerfreevt.org
About Hunger Free Vermont: Hunger Free Vermont (formerly the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger) is a statewide nonprofit organization that works with state agencies and community groups to develop sustainable hunger solutions. Since 1993 Hunger Free Vermont’s outreach programs have substantially enhanced Vermont’s nutrition safety net and increased access to nutritious foods. www.hungerfreevt.org
About the report: Data for Vermont came from an annual report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a national anti-hunger advocacy and research group. The FRAC report, Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation, gives data for all states and looks at national trends. FRAC measures national summer participation during the month of July, when typically all children are out of school throughout the month and lose access to school meals. The report is available online at www.frac.org.
Media Contact: Alida Duncan, Hunger Free Vermont, 802.865.0255