Study: 1 in 7 kids eligible for summer meal assistance participates

By Helena Bottemiller Evich, POLITICO

Nearly 5 percent fewer low-income students participated in summer meals programs last summer than the summer before — a decline that comes after four years of greatly expanded participation, according to a new study released today.

The annual report by the Food Research & Action Center, dubbed “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation,” looked at participation last summer in both the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program at the state and national levels.

Progress was measured by analyzing how many children were eligible for free or reduced-price meals during the school year and then comparing that figure to the number of children who actually received meals during summer months.

The report found that just 1 in 7 children who qualified for summer nutrition assistance received it in 2016. While many states saw a decline in participation, 22 experienced an expansion, FRAC reported.

But overall, 4.8 percent fewer children were served compared to the previous summer.

Top of the list was the District of Columbia, which had a nearly 49 percent participation rate. The states with the lowest summer participation rates included Missouri and West Virginia, with just under 10 percent each.

“Clearly, more must be done to close this gap to reduce hunger, fight obesity and reduce the summer ‘learning slide’ for millions of our nation’s children,” said Jim Weill, president of FRAC.

To view online: