June 26, 2014
One-in-five children in the United States struggles with hunger — a startling statistic and a critical social issue that grows more serious in the summer.
While an estimated 20 million students facing food insecurity have access to meals during the school year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National School Lunch Program, according to the Food Research and Action Center only 3 million children have similar access to healthy meals and snacks when school is out. That means as many as 17 million kids face hunger in the summer months.
When kids lack the sustenance they need to fuel their bodies and grow their minds, it’s difficult for them to stay active and engaged. As a leading nonprofit for youth development, the Y helps children and teens succeed through a holistic approach that fosters their cognitive, physical and social-emotional well-being. Ensuring children receive the nutrition they need year-round is part of this approach.
This summer, the Y is continuing its fight against child hunger by providing healthy meals and snacks to kids at more than 2,500 locations across the U.S. Through the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, YMCAs are able to meet families where they are — in parks, recreation centers and churches — and provide two meals or one meal and one snack a day to children struggling with food insecurity.
This important work is made possible by the Y’s ongoing partnership with the Wal-Mart Foundation. With a $5 million grant in 2013, the Y served 7.5 million meals to more than 140,000 kids during summer and afterschool programs. With an increased grant of $5.3 million in 2014, our goal is to provide 8 million meals to 200,000 kids.
These daily meals give kids the fuel they need for a successful summer — and help financially stressed families make ends meet. To learn more about the Y’s efforts to supply healthy meals and snacks for all kids during the summer, visit ymca.net/summerfood.