USDA Out to Feed Hungry Children This Summer

Filed under: In The News

school lunch

The USDA is working to provide lunch to students even when school is out. Credit: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Some 20 million low-income children get free or reduced-price lunches during the school year, courtesy of the federal government.

That number drops to three million during the summer.

Fearing a lot of hungry children this summer, Reuters news service reports, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials are working with nonprofit organizations and businesses to let parents and children know the lunches are available even when school is out.

In many communities, they will be served through churches, charitable organizations, state and local agencies and the Boys and Girls Club of America.

"As school programs are reduced in the summer, we lose those reliable institutional sites," USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon tells Reuters. "We've eased some of the regulatory burden associated with the program so that more sponsors can come in."

The USDA's time is perfect, James Weill, of the Food Research and Action Center, tells the news service. Many state and local organizations who would normally provide food for hungry children face budgets that have diminished or disappeared.

"Some important recent changes are cutting important red tape and making it easier for nonprofits and schools and local government agencies like parks and (recreation) departments to operate summer food programs," he tells Reuters of the USDA food programs. "These are important steps forward."

Under the program, Reuters reports, meal providers in approved areas feed children and then bill the government at a predetermined rate for meals that include breakfasts and lunches.

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