Is WA Getting Better at Feeding Hungry Kids?
by School's Out Washington | | Posted under
The Children’s Alliance recently released a report with some of the latest numbers and findings related to summer meals in Washington State. School’s Out Washington participates as part of the Summer Meals Workgroup focused on increasing access and participation in the federally-subsidized summer meal program as a key strategy to ending childhood hunger.
Here are some of the key findings and next steps to continue forward momentum and more kids accessing free nutritious meals during the summer months:
Growth in summer meals has stalled in recent years as school districts and parks departments have experienced state and federal budget cuts. At the same time, the number of children eligible for free or reduced-price school meals has skyrocketed. Here in Washington, only 9.8 percent of children eligible for and participating in the free or reduced-price school meal program have access to meals during the summertime. Washington ranks 38th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in summer meal access. Over 475,000 Washington students – 46% of all students – now qualify for these meals.
Some successes for summer meal expansion since the end childhood hunger plan was created:
- WA’s ratio of summer meals to free/reduced school lunch participation increased incrementally for the first time since 2009.
- Extraordinary efforts to increase the number of sponsors and sites for the program are paying off: the number of sponsors increased 26% since 2008 and the number of sites jumped 27%, more than the increase in sites across the US.
- In 2012, WA summer sponsors served 125,000 more meals than in 2010.
- A focus on recruiting community-based organizations with a commitment to feed kids all summer long has resulted in a 60% increase in lunches served in August since 2008.
- This summer, 93% of 2012 sponsors are returning to provide meals, many with an increased number of sites.
In summary, strategies to expand summer meals in Washington are beginning to pay off; however, our state still ranks only 38 of 51 states. Washington’s rural areas pose unique problems, yet small towns and cities like Sprague and Fairfield are providing summer meals in town parks and attracting concentrations of kids. Another successful rural model is offered by Manson School District which sends a truck with hot meals to parks, manufactured home parks and other areas. The Copalis Beach Community Church Food Bank delivers meals to the post office in Moclips!
Urban strategies taking off across the country include joining the food truck craze to bring meals to city youth. The City of Seattle, United Way of King County and WithinReach have joined together in the National League of Cities out of school time learning academy, with the goal of increasing access to meals for kids in Seattle.
Join us in supporting expanded summer meals for all kids in Washington:
- Click here to find a summer meal site near you.
- For a tool-kit and more information about summer meal programs, click here.
- To learn more about Summer Meal Participation, view the Afterschool Alliance Survey results
- Food Research Action Center Summer Nutrition Programs Webpage
- To join the Washington Afterschool Network and Children’s Action Network and stand up for Washington kids, click here
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