Feeding needy kids when school’s out for the summer
New Jersey is making good progress in feeding thousands of hungry children during the summer months, but more needs to be done to make sure everyone who is facing food insecurity is able to get enough to eat.
That’s the finding of a new report issued by Hunger Free New Jersey.
Adele LaTourette, director of Hunger Free New Jersey, said last summer more than 103,000 Garden State kids were fed through the Summer Food Service program, a 38% increase from 2015.
“We’re up to 26% of children who receive meals during the school year are now receiving summer food. Our goal is to get to 40%, so we have a ways to go," she said.
She said the Summer Food Service program “tries to fill the gap when school is out of session. We don’t have school lunch of school breakfast when school is out of session, and that’s why Summer Food is in existence.”
When school meals are not available over the summer, that can be a significant problem for kids from lower income families.
“That’s what they rely on. They get school breakfast and school lunch when they’re in school, and that can oftentimes be the only meal they see during the day," she said.
The Summer Food Service program is federally funded.
Last year, 127 local governments, churches, school districts and community organizations provided meals for kids at 1,357 sites throughout the Garden State.
The Summer Food Service program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and overseen in the Garden State by the state Department of Agriculture.
Last year, Summer Food sponsors received $12.7 million in reimbursements from the feds to cover the cost of the food they provided for children during the summer months, a 71% increase from 2015.
For information about joining the Summer Food Service program you can call the New Jersey Agriculture Department at 609-292-4498.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com