Child Nutrition a Year-Round Need in N.C.

By Alan Briggs, Executive Director, NC Association of Feeding America Food Banks

There has been a lot of attention the last few years to the food we are serving our children in school. We passionately debate things like whole grains and sodium content or the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables.

We also appreciate the attention that our food banks receive for our popular BackPack programs. There is wide support for this effort to send a backpack of food home with needy children on Fridays to help them eat through the weekend.

What is sadly and strangely missing from that conversation is a discussion of what we are feeding children over the summer, and unfortunately the answer is not much.

Over 671,000 low-income children in North Carolina receive lunch assistance during the school year, but just 98,000 will be able to participate in feeding programs this summer. Research has found that children consume up to 50 percent of their total daily calories at school during the school year. What happens to children whose families don’t have the resources to make up that 50 percent on a summer day?

North Carolina’s Feeding America Food Banks and other charities do their part to try to close the summer hunger gap by operating summer feeding programs throughout our state. But there is currently no way we will be able to reach the 85 percent of kids not being served without greater flexibility in the ways and places we are allowed to reach them.

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