More Kids Go Hungry in Summer [AUDIO]
Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation. In fact, these few months can be very scary for low-income New Jersey families.
Schools are letting out for the summer, meaning parents need to worry about providing all the meals of the day for their children, seven days a week. During the school year, hundreds of thousands of children are provided free or reduced-price lunches. Many students receive breakfast as well.
Kathleen DiChiara, Director of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, said the demand goes up this time of year as struggling families reach out for the basics. Unfortunately, donations also drop this time of year, along with the number of volunteers.
“People have so many really good memories or plans around the summer, that they just don’t picture this as such a horrible time for so many families in New Jersey,” DiChiara said. “Hot and hungry doesn’t seem to resonate like cold and hungry does.”
According to the Food Research and Action Center, less than 15 percent of New Jersey students who participated in the National School Lunch Program also benefit from a summer feeding initiative. The national average is 25 percent.
DiChiara said parents who can’t afford wholesome food, or get their hands on it at a local pantry, end up feeding their children junk food because it’s cheaper. Even worse, families could be skipping meals altogether.
The need is year-round for items providing protein, such as tuna fish, peanut butter and meals in a can.
“It’s not Thanksgiving,” DiChiara said. “We can’t solve this with a turkey.”