June 14, 2017 – When school’s out and the summer begins, nearly 1.7 million low-income children in California lose access to nutritious meals that support their health and ability to reach their full academic potential. In Nevada County, 1,325 children, representing 87 percent of all children who benefit from free or reduced-price lunches during the school-year, miss out on similar lunches during the summer, according to a new report by the California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA).

Note: To find Nevada County’s summer meal sites, visit: www.cde.ca.gov/ds/sh/sn/summersites17.asp.

“In these uncertain times, one thing is clear: summer meals don’t just fight hunger, they also get kids out of the house. This helps them be active and healthy even while they are not in school. There are several actions policymakers and community leaders can take to bring the benefits of summer meals to more children in California,” George Manalo-LeClair, Executive Director, California Food Policy Advocates. 

CFPA’s report, titled School’s Out…Who Ate?outlines solutions to keep kids free from summer hunger:

Support Immigrant Families: Immigrant families may be less likely to show up for summer meals due to immigration concerns. Policy solutions that foster safe spaces for these families during the summer should be considered. In the meantime, sponsors and community partners can take action now to promote a welcoming summer meal environment.

Expand Summer EBT for Children: By expanding Summer EBT for Children, low-income families with children would receive a few extra dollars to support tightened grocery budgets during the summer months. This is especially important for families who do not live near a summer meal site or have transportation issues.

Protect Expanded Learning Programs: Expanded learning programs provide academic and enrichment opportunities for high-need students, support working families, and keep kids safe and well-nourished during the summer and after school.

Elevate the Role of Nutrition for Academic Success: Healthy and well-nourished children are more likely to attend class, be ready to learn, stay engaged, and perform well in school. The state’s flexible education spending structure allows districts to support summer meal programs to improve the health and academic outcomes of students.

Healthy summer meals support student health and their ability to learn throughout the summer and when school is back in session. Increased participation in the summer meal programs could also bring tens of millions of dollars in additional federal funding to California.

For additional recommendations, background and local data visit: cfpa.net/sowa-2017.

As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization exclusively focused on food policy, CFPA can dedicate the whole of its time, resources, and energy towards increasing low-income Californians access to healthy food. www.cfpa.net