Tag Archives: summer feeding

How libraries will fight hunger in America this summer

When summer comes needy children often lose access to the free or reduced price meals available during the school year. In Ohio, which has a child hunger rate of 25 percent, this is a huge problem.

Read the full article at Examiner.com

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Summer Meals Should be for all Children

The Dept. of Agriculture is trying to expand summer feeding throughout the country (courtesy USDA)

The Dept. of Agriculture is trying to expand summer feeding throughout the country (courtesy USDA)

Summer is here and time for relaxation. But for millions of needy children across the United States, it is the summer months when they are most vulnerable to hunger.

During the school year children have access to the federal school lunch and breakfast programs. This is a major safety net for families who need a little to help to get by during tough times. When school is out these meals sadly disappear for many.

The Food Research and Action Center states, “for every seven low-income students who depended on the National School Lunch Program during the regular 2011-2012 school year, only one child received summer meals in July 2012.”

Some U.S. counties do not even have a summer feeding site. So there is a huge gap in the U.S. child feeding program that will need innovation from both the public and the government to fix. In Cincinnati, Ohio, for example, public libraries are helping out as locations for distributing summer meals. More summer feeding sites, or other delivery methods, need to be established and there has to be adequate funding.

Summer meals for children are also missing in Haiti, where food is desperately needed. A series of storms and drought have damaged food production in an already impoverished country. The UN World Food Programme, which depends on voluntary funding, did not receive enough to provide summer feeding in Haiti nor a program for take home rations to help needy families.

The U.S. McGovern-Dole global school meals program is helping in Haiti as well as other countries including Mali and Afghanistan, but it needs to be expanded. Unfortunately, funding for McGovern-Dole is at risk as members of Congress are threatening cuts to food aid. This despite the fact that food aid makes up less than one tenth of one percent of the federal budget.

The program was named after the two former senators, George McGovern and Bob Dole, who during World War II witnessed the devastating effect of hunger on children and understood the importance of these initiatives in the global scene.

We should expect our representatives in Congress to make feeding the hungry overseas a top foreign policy priority.

Summer meals, both here at home and abroad, should be for all children. It’s a real test of our character as a society, do we care for the next generation and give them a helping hand.

In the United States you can call 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (for Spanish speakers) to find the closest summer feeding sites or visit www.whyhunger.org/findfood.

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Where are the School Meals?

Emergency school feeding in Mali through the World Food Programme. Cuts by Congress to food aid could harm this program. (WFP/Daouda Guirou)

Emergency school feeding in Mali through the World Food Programme. Cuts by Congress to food aid could harm this program. (WFP/Daouda Guirou)

We know that globally there is a huge need for school lunch programs to fight child hunger. Yet, it’s the middle of June and there’s still no word on which countries will receive grants from the U.S. McGovern-Dole school lunch program. Last year the announcement took place in April and the previous year in May.

The McGovern-Dole program is run by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA). However, the program is constantly under stress from potential funding cuts by Congress.

Bread for the World reported earlier this year that “234,000 children will have reduced or denied access to school feeding programs under the McGovern-Dole program” as a result of the sequestration cuts. It is believed that the sequestration is causing the delay in the announcement of the school feeding grants. The longer the delay, the longer hungry and malnourished children have to wait for the meals.

Aid groups, including Catholic Relief Services and the World Food Program USA, want funding for McGovern-Dole increased. They see the positive effects this program has in countries that are suffering from disasters, war, or long-standing poverty. This year’s Farm Bill legislation is the perfect opportunity to increase the level of funding and allow for more school meals in Afghanistan, Mali, Haiti and other countries where needs are massive.

WFP USA says it “has included an ask for McGovern-Dole of $300 million for FY14 in our overall global hunger and nutrition recommendations. Providing $300 million a year for McGovern-Dole would allow this program to reach 10% of the hungry school-aged children in need, increasing their nutritional status and increasing school attendance, especially for girls.” Recent funding levels for McGovern-Dole are around the $200 million mark.

Here in the United States the National School Lunch program is meant to fight off child hunger.

But what happens when summer arrives and schools close? The lunches are disappearing for many children. The Food and Research Action Center (FRAC) just released a report showing a huge gap in feeding coverage during the summer months.

The report says, “for every seven low-income students who depended on the National School Lunch Program during the regular 2011-2012 school year, only one child received summer meals in July 2012.”

Tom Vilsack, head of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), emphasizes, “We must do all we can to ensure that children get nutritious food year-round, so that they are ready to learn during the school year and have a greater chance to succeed.” Efforts by USDA and the public have slightly improved summer feeding participation but the gap in coverage is still huge.

Jim Weill, the president of FRAC, says, “USDA is providing strong leadership with its emphasis on improving summer meals, but Congress will need to fix some of the underlying problems in the programs in the 2015 Child Nutrition Reauthorization to truly repair the Summer Nutrition Programs. Congress must take a fresh look at the Summer Nutrition Programs and consider ways to improve this faltering program so it more effectively addresses hunger and obesity.”

The struggle to defeat hunger at home and abroad depends on school meals. Leaders, both from the government and the public, need to ensure these vital food programs are strengthened.

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Backpacks Fight Hunger in America

Food supplies for a Power Pack (Freestore Foodbank photo)

The Cincinnati Public Library says a plan to give children backpacks of food for weekends is off to an excellent start. Library branches, in partnership with the Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank, are hosting summer feeding sites to make sure no child goes hungry.

Over 25 percent of children in Ohio are considered hungry or “food insecure,” according to a study by Feeding America. Last month the Library decided to provide backpacks of food which children could take home on Fridays. This food is in addition to regular weekday meals at library branches throughout Cincinnati.

Diane Smiley, the youth services coordinator for the Library, says “Based on the numbers and anecdotal feedback from some of the sites, Friday attendance has spiked and all the backpacks are being distributed. We’re glad this additional resource is available to kids who are clearly in need.”

Karrie Denniston of Feeding America, the nation’s largest organization fighting hunger, says that adding backpack programs to summer feeding is generally a success: “It is becoming frequent actually. A lot of our summer programs run both.”

Backpacks ensure that needy children can have meals all week, and cut down the gaps in coverage that are so common when summer arrives. During the school year children have access to free and reduced-price meals through the federal school lunch and breakfast program. They also have access to backpack programs through their school. During the school year the Freestore Foodbank of Cincinnati runs a backpack program called the “Power Pack.” When summer comes and school is out, a replacement is needed.

The Freestore is planning expansion of its school year “Power Pack” program as well. The Cincinnati Public Library is also seeking to expand its role in alleviating child hunger and promoting education. Smiley says that “we’re looking at developing a community partnership that would provide free and healthy afterschool snacks to kids at our Homework Help sites.”

Article first published as Backpacks Fight Hunger in America on Blogcritics.

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Summer Feeding Means Summer Learning

This summer the Cincinnati Public Library is hosting summer feeding programs at many of its branch libraries (Cincinnnati Public Library photo)

This summer the city of Cincinnati is trying to ensure that no child goes hungry. This is especially critical with Feeding America‘s recent report that over 25 percent of children suffer from hunger or “food insecurity” in Ohio.

Free meals for children ages 1-18 are being distributed at a number of sites across the city including Cincinnati Public Library branches.

Lisa Hamrick, the manager of the North Central Library branch, says, “I believe we have been incredibly successful in serving lunch to children who might otherwise not eat throughout the day. In fact, many of the children coming to eat lunch arrive at the library when we open at 10:00 (they are actually standing outside waiting for the doors to open) and many days they don’t leave until after 6:00 pm – occasionally they stay until we close at 9:00 pm.”

The North Central branch has served 625 meals to children so far this summer. In fact, according to Hamrick, children are discovering new foods like pita bread, green pepper slices, pears and liking them, a possible exception being hummus.

The US Dept of Agriculture, Cincinnati Public Schools, the Freestore Foodbank, Cincinnati Cooks, and other partners are providing the food for these library feeding programs.

Here’s some feedback on how the library summer feeding plan is going throughout the city. Diane Smiley, the Youth Services coordinator for the Public Library says, “The results are still mixed at this point. Several of our locations are drawing sizable numbers of children while others are having smaller numbers than we’d like so far.”

As is the case with the North Central branch the summer meals are leading to increased use of libraries. Smiley says, “many of our branches participating in the summer lunch program are encouraging the kids to also participate in the Library’s annual summer reading program.”

Debby Carrico, the manager for Elmwood Place library branch, says, “We have noticed an increase in use of the library both for circulation and use of our computers. Program attendance has gone up some as well, since they usually follow the lunches. ”

The Elmwood Place branch is seeing around 10-12 children daily receive the meals. Carrico adds, “Parents sometimes come with the children to help supervise and this is a plus because we rarely see the parents at this branch as they are working several shifts to survive financially. This has been a GREAT service to this neighborhood.”

Drew Pearson, the branch manager for the Bond Hill Library branch says, “we have seen increases in library use as well as Summer Reading participation. This summer our lunch program has averaged 18 participants a day…..Many of the children and teens who have enjoyed the free lunch have listened as staff promoted the opportunity to win prizes for reading. The grand prizes this summer have been very enticing.”

The link between summer food and reading and learning is strong. Tony Fairhead, the director of Childhood Food Solutions (CFS), works to bring summer feeding to hungry children in the Cincinnati area. CFS provides food to students at the Roll Hill Academy. Fairhead says, “Without summer food, we can’t really imagine the children will be able to return to school ready to learn. I think that summer food explains why we have seen this improvement from 25% to 76% for the vitally important third grade reading proficiency.

Fairhead explains, “Teachers provide the academics and Childhood Food Solutions, along with partners like Walmart, makes sure the kids have the nourishment they need during the summer break. We have been tracking reading and math proficiency and test achievement has been increasing since CFS began providing summer food. At Roll Hill, third grade reading proficiency has increased from 25% to 76% since summer food began in 2008.”

Fairhead says these results led the assistant principal at Roll Hill to exclaim two years ago, “Academics + Food = Achievement!”

The charity our Daily Bread, located in downtown Cincinnati, does not host an official summer feeding site but they do have a program called the Kids Club. It’s an after school program for children ages 5-13 and it runs during the summer as well. Children can get a meal, computer access and do arts and crafts projects. The charity relies on donations from the public to offer these programs.

Natalie Fields, the manager of the Deer Park library branch, says, “We serve an average of 10 children a day. Happily, some of those children are staying to attend library programs, participate in the Library’s Summer Reading Program, and use the Library’s resources. I’d say our overall library use and program attendance have seen a small increase so far as a result of the Summer Lunch Program.

Joan Luebering of the Sharonville branch says, “we do see a few new faces” using the library since the summer feeding began. Ned Heeger-Brehm of the Groesbeck branch library notices some new patrons as well since the start of summer feeding. Denise Scretchen of the Deer Park branch library notes the positive impact of the summer feeding with about 15-20 children attending every day it’s offered.

Liz Anderson, the children’s librarian at the Reading Branch Library, says they are serving about 10 children a day with meals. On one day they had as many as 28 children attend. She has noticed some increased use of the library especially when parents arrive with their children.

Frank Dugan, the manager of the Corryville Library, said that more kids came to library programs as a result of the summer feeding while it was offered. The Corryville branch, as well as some others, discontinued their summer feeding for lack of attendance.

There are issues that need to be addressed to determine how future summer feeding should take place and where. It must be determined why low attendance might occur at one site but not another. In some cases it may just be a case of awareness of the summer feeding availability.

With the summer heat though sometimes libraries lose out on attendance. For instance the Pleasant Ridge library branch had small figures of attendance for summer feeding. David Dukart, the manager of the Pleasant Ridge Library, said that they fed 20 children on a few days but most others they were in the range of 4-8 in attendance. However, the nearby Pleasant Ridge Pool’s summer feeding site served 256 meals in the first week of July alone. Regardless of where the meals are offered its vital they are available.

With school out children in need lose access to the free and reduced prices lunches offered through the national lunch program. But distribution of food during summer becomes a problem with schools closed. With hunger on the rise in Cincinnati and throughout the country it becomes vital to make sure safety nets are in place for the vulnerable.

The need for safety nets like school feeding will become even more important with the expected increase in food prices from this summer’s drought. If you can combine this need with learning it makes for a productive combo.

As Smiley says, “We hope to feed both their bodies and their minds!”

Hamrick says, “as challenging as this has been for us, it is also rewarding to have kids we know wouldn’t eat lunch, let alone a nutritious lunch, eat and leave with a smile because they are full and content.”

Starting this week the North Central branch and others will also be adding a “backpack” component. This is a special package of non-perishable food that children can take home to use over the weekends when the summer feeding at the library is not available.

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Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank Summer Feeding Sites for Children

When summer comes children are at an increased risk of hunger since they lose access to the free or reduced price meals available at school. Summer feeding programs need to be established to fill in the gaps. In Hamilton County last year there were 45,950 needy students who took part in the federal lunch program during the school year while only 3,990 children received summer feeding. (Feeding America photo)

The Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank, with the help of a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has announced the summer food service program. From June 11 through Aug. 10 (closed July 4th) children ages 1-18 will be able to receive lunches at eight sites throughout the city. The Freestore Foodbanks’s Cincinnati Cooks students will prepare the meals which will include sandwiches and tuna salad.

During the school year children from lower income families have access to free or reduced price meals via the federal school lunch program. When school closes, children often lose access to these meals unless summer feeding is sponsored.

The Children’s Hunger Alliance of Ohio reports that in Hamilton County last year 45,950 eligible children took part in the free/reduced price lunch program. In the summer though only 3,990 eligible children received meals because of the difficulty distributing food with school closed.

Governor John Kasich recently issued an executive order which would provide $1 million to help increase summer feeding coverage in parts of the state. More funding will be needed though to help Cincinnati and other areas provide more summer meals.

Jessica Shelly, the food service director of Cincinnati Public Schools, says that free breakfast will be served at school sites during the summer. This will be a continuation of the free breakfast program offered when school is in session.

A recent report from Feeding America showed that 18 percent of the population of Hamilton County is suffering from hunger or “food insecurity.” The availability of free or reduced price meals is vital to fighting a child hunger crisis in the Tri-State area.

The eight locations for Freestore Foodbank summer lunches beginning June 11 include:

Deer Park Public Library (3970 E. Galbraith Rd. Cincinnati OH 45236, M-F 12:00-12:30pm) 513-369-4450

Elmwood Place Public Library (6120 Vine St. Cincinnati OH 45216, M-F 1:00-1:30pm) 513-369-4452

Forest Park Public Library (655 Waycross Rd. Cincinnati OH 45240, M-F 12:00-12:30pm) 513-369-4478

Groesbeck Public Library (2994 W. Galbraith Rd. Cincinnati OH 45239 M-F 12:00-12:30pm) 513-369-4454

North Central Public Library (11109 Hamilton Ave. Cincinnati OH 45231 M-F 12:00-12:30pm) 513-369-6068

Reading Public Library (9001 Reading Rd. Cincinnati OH 45215 M-F 12:00-1:00pm) 513-369-4465

Sharonville Public Library (10980 Thornview Dr. Cincinnati, OH 45241 M-F 12:00-12:30pm) 513-369-6049

Skyline Community Center (8500 Pippin Rd. Cincinnati, OH 45251 M-F 12:00-1:00pm) (513) 729-0757

Read about more summer feeding sites run by Cincinnati Public Schools.

article originally published May 24th at Cincinnati.com

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Free Breakfasts and Lunches for Children in Cincinnati This Summer

When summer comes children are at an increased risk of hunger since they lose access to the free or reduced price meals available at school. Summer feeding programs need to be established to fill in the gaps. In Hamilton County last year there were 45,950 needy students who took part in the federal lunch program during the school year while only 3,990 children received summer feeding. (Feeding America photo)

The Cincinnati Public Schools have announced their list of summer feeding sites. Children ages 1-18 can receive free breakfast and lunch at these locations which includes summer school sites and community and school locations.

The summer feeding program is meant to fill in the gap when school closes and children no longer have access to the federal school breakfast and lunch programs. It’s an effort to curb child hunger as Hamilton County has 18 percent of its population considered “food insecure.”

The Children’s Hunger Alliance of Ohio has an automated service you can call (1 800 481 6885) which will help you find the summer feeding site closest to you.

Summer Feeding Locations in Cincinnati for Children Ages 1-18

summer school sites

community and school sites

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Romney-Obama Battleground State Suffering from Hunger Crisis

Summer is coming and all eyes will be on Ohio since it’s the battleground state in the Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney presidential showdown.

What cannot be forgotten amid the election hype is that Ohio is suffering from a growing hunger crisis. A report released on Friday from Feeding America, the nation’s largest food aid organization, showed that 18.1 percent of Ohio’s population is suffering from hunger. Last year the rate was 17 percent. This “food insecurity” affects over 2 million people in the state.

Five Congressional districts in Ohio had hunger rates well above the Ohio average (districts 1,3, 9, 11, 17). Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director at the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, says, “We believe that no one in our state should go hungry or try to survive without access to adequate amounts of healthy, nutritious food.”

The arrival of summer brings a new problem and it’s not just legions of reporters and campaign staffs trouncing through the state. When school ends many children lose access to one of the most important safety nets against hunger, the federal free or reduced price breakfast and lunch programs.

This is an issue in Ohio and across the nation as the dilemma becomes how to distribute the food with most schools closed during the summer months. New feeding sites or mobile pantries are some of the options that have been utilized, but still huge gaps remain.

Many needy children who receive the meals during the school year end up going without during the summer. A report from the Children’s Hunger Alliance showed that in Franklin County, Ohio there were over 78,000 children who received the free or reduced price school lunches in 2011. In the summer though just over 11,000 children received the meals. In some counties there were no summer feeding sites at all last year.

Summer is coming and all eyes will be on Ohio since it’s the battleground state in the Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney presidential showdown.

What cannot be forgotten amid the election hype is that Ohio is suffering from a growing hunger crisis. A report released on Friday from Feeding America, the nation’s largest food aid organization, showed that 18.1 percent of Ohio’s population is suffering from hunger. Last year the rate was 17 percent. This “food insecurity” affects over 2 million people in the state.

Five Congressional districts in Ohio had hunger rates well above the Ohio average (districts 1,3, 9, 11, 17). Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director at the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, says, “We believe that no one in our state should go hungry or try to survive without access to adequate amounts of healthy, nutritious food.”

The arrival of summer brings a new problem and it’s not just legions of reporters and campaign staffs trouncing through the state. When school ends many children lose access to one of the most important safety nets against hunger, the federal free or reduced price breakfast and lunch programs.

This is an issue in Ohio and across the nation as the dilemma becomes how to distribute the food with most schools closed during the summer months. New feeding sites or mobile pantries are some of the options that have been utilized, but still huge gaps remain.

Many needy children who receive the meals during the school year end up going without during the summer. A report from the Children’s Hunger Alliance showed that in Franklin County, Ohio there were over 78,000 children who received the free or reduced price school lunches in 2011. In the summer though just over 11,000 children received the meals. In some counties there were no summer feeding sites at all last year.

This summer of 2012, with Ohio’s rate of hunger increasing, many children are at risk unless summer feeding expands quickly.

One possible solution might involve offering citizens of Ohio a chance to buy CARE packages for needy children so they can have food assistance during the summer. The packages could be purchased at stores or online and shipped to needy children by foodbanks. This would be like a summer version of a program run by the Freestore Foodbank of Cincinnati called the Power Pack which gives children foods like rice, milk, and canned fruit to take home for the weekend during the school year.

Perhaps it is fitting that so much election focus will be on Ohio this year as it can shine the light on the hunger crisis facing this state was well as the nation. Feeding America reports there are nearly 49 million Americans who suffer from hunger.

Ohio incidentally has a storied history in the fight against hunger. It dates back to the early 1900’s to Cincinnati school teacher Ella Walsh who was a pioneer in developing school feeding. This spirit continued with support for the Belgian Relief Commission during World War I to the Ohio Food Train which helped win the peace after World War II by feeding the hungry. More recently it’s the expansion of school breakfast programs in Cincinnati.

Ohio has an opportunity now to not only shape the course of the next presidency, but provide a turning point in the struggle to end hunger in America.

Article first published as Romney-Obama Battleground State Suffering from Hunger Crisis on Blogcritics.

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