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Improve and Expand Access to Other Food Programs

Children’s participation in both summer and after-school feeding programs needs to be increased.

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Providing universal school breakfasts to children in Title I schools would be a huge boost toward reaching the 2015 goal, but schools average 180 class days out of a 365-day year and breakfast is only one of three daily meals. Even if every student received a nutritious school breakfast that would equal only about 180 meals out of 1,095 meals a child needs to eat each year.

Further, in July 2007, only 18 percent of low-income children who received school lunches received summer meals. That means that 82 percent of kids who receive government food support during the school year fail to get it in the summer when their caloric needs are likely even higher. After-school snack and supper programs also have similarly low participation rates.

Therefore, children’s participation in both summer and after-school feeding programs needs to be increased. The president and Congress need to ease eligibility rules, increase the reimbursement rates for program sponsors, and reduce the paperwork necessary to be a sponsor. All of these improvements as well as improvements in food nutritional quality could be accomplished through this year’s Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill.

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