MANHATTAN (KSNT) – Hungry children in Kansas may be doing without because a federal program that feeds them in the summer is not being used as well as it could be according to a Kansas State University nutritionist.
“There has been a lot of concern because the summer food service program, a well-accepted program offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, just isn’t getting the launch that it should be having for the number of hungry kids we know are around the country,” said Sandy Procter, assistant professor of human nutrition.
She says the concern comes as Kansas is ranked as one of the lowest states when it comes to providing summer meals.
Last July, Kansas served summer meals to about 7 out of 100 low-income children according to the annual report from Food Research and Action Center. Right now, 122 summer meal programs are available across the state. That is 244% less of an opportunity for children in need of food when compared to the 420 school districts that offer food programs during the regular school year.
“We know that children’s activity only increases in summer, and yet the availability of food through the school breakfast program and school lunch program goes away when the school year ends in May,” Procter said. “There’s a long time of food insecurity in a lot of families because their food dollars have to stretch quite a bit further when those children aren’t able to eat and have regular meals in school”
In a news release from the university, Procter encourages communities to consider opening a summer meal program. She notes that volunteers at a library, church or other community organization can receive funding from USDA.
You can learn more about summer meal programs by contacting the Kansas Family Nutrition Program at K-State by calling (785) 532-1675.