In DC over 40,000 students on free and reduced lunch are at risk of experiencing hunger this summer.
Every year when schools let out for the summer, the thousands of kids that rely on school to receive all their meals will suddenly have to look elsewhere for the food they need. The financial burden families shoulder during the summer months will be exacerbated this year as inflation continues to rise. Last year, the average family grocery costs for the summer increased by $300 with that number expecting to rise in 2022 according to research by No Kid Hungry. Often this forces those living in poverty to make tough cost-cutting decisions between food, rent, or even healthcare.
When children experience hunger over the summer it often affects their schooling and academic performance in the following school year said LaMonika Jones, Anti-Hunger Program Analyst, Child Nutrition Programs at DC Hunger Solutions.
“When we think about food we automatically think about nutrition and how it affects kids bodies physically. But that’s not the full picture. When you’re hungry you can experience decreased brain function, lack of concentration, or behavioral issues,” she added.
The reality is hunger plays a huge role in a child’s social determinates. Children facing hunger are at a higher risk of experiencing poverty in other forms whether it’s lack of transportation or unstable housing.
“Before we can take care of learning and academics, we have to address food and safety needs for children,” said Jones.
That’s where summer feeding programs come in. This year, DC Central Kitchen will be back on the road delivering free meals from our Mobile Meals food truck and meeting families where they’re at. Partnering with organizations and government offices like DC Hunger Solutions, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and Cure the Streets allows us to expand our reach to everyone who’s in need of a nutritious meal.
According to DC Hunger Solutions, data shows that in 2021 an average of 10,000 youth participated in free summer meals programs making it a total of 3.4 million meals served throughout June and July.
In response to the previous year’s high demand, we’re expanding our outreach to over 30 sites including public pools, summer camps, public schools, apartment complexes, community centers, and even retirement communities. To address the growing number of food insecure seniors in DC, we’re widening our summer meals programming to include seniors as well as youth.
To further increase participation, several of our public meal delivery sites will not require registration for meal recipients.
“Sometimes there’s a stigma attached to hunger assistance,” said Jones. “It’s important for people to be able to receive a no-cost, no-strings attached meal if they’re in need,” she added.
Preparing and delivering thousands of meals this summer won’t be easy. That’s why we’re looking to our supporters for help. Help us raise $150,000 to cover costs of ingredients, meal containers, fuel for our trucks, and fair wages for our hunger-fighters. Make your tax-deductible donation today.