For many American children, the summer months allow for freedom from school, less responsibilities, and a few months of relaxation. However, there are many children and parents who will unfortunately have much more on their minds.
According to the Child Nutrition Tables on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service website, there are over 22 million children who rely on the National School Lunch & Breakfast program. However, despite the number of children on school lunches, only about 4 million children are enrolled in the National Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). While school is out of session, the children who rely on the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs for their daily meals are likely missing out on the nutrition they need.
Organizations, such as the No Kid Hungry initiative, are working to help the USDA expand the SFSP enrollment. For the first time in history, over half of the public-school students in the United States are from low-income families, and it is estimated that these families spend $300 more on groceries when school is out for the summer. Applying for the SFSP is easy, but the locations where students can receive the food can be difficult to get to in the summer months, which is why the USDA is working with lawmakers to make it easier. In 2016, 44 percent of the participants of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were children and therefore eligible to receive SFSP benefits. To apply or find out more about other eligibility requirements, please visit the SFSP homepage.
Benefits.gov provides information for low-income families to get the assistance they need to ensure no child is left hungry. Those who are eligible may also be able to apply for USDA sponsored food assistance programs for the start of the school year, and it is smart to get educated and begin preparing early. A few of these school-year programs to consider include the Special Milk Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Each of these programs help to supplement the diets and provide resources for children and families in need.
To find more food or nutrition assistance programs please visit Benefits.gov and view the Food and Nutrition category or view the list of benefits offered by USDA. For information on more government benefits you may be eligible to receive, take the Benefit Finder questionnaire.