Stories from the National Hunger Hotline: Finding Summer Meals for Students

Stephanie, a recent caller to the National Hunger Hotline, is the principal of an elementary school in Maryland. The county her school is in includes a large low-income community. Stephanie shared that many of her students will go without food during the summer, because school lunch is the only meal that many of them regularly eat. Across the country, summer brings the highest rates of childhood hunger in the U.S, with more children going without nutrients, skipping meals and eating less.

Fortunately, there are services that fill the summer gap and provide free, nutritious meals for kids. The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program is available at local organizations, like schools, recreation centers, playgrounds, parks, churches, summer camps and more, all over the country and all summer long. WhyHunger partners with the USDA to ensure that more children and their families have access to free, nutritious food during the summer months by promoting the Summer Food Service Program, to educators like Stephanie and others who call the Hotline, by registering summer feeding sites in our database, and through promotional materials that people can post their communities.

The National Hunger Hotline advocate gave Stephanie a list of summer meal sites in her area, so that she will be able to prepare her students and their families for the summer.

The National Hunger Hotline 1-866-3 HUNGRY and 1-877-8 HAMBRE  (1-866-348-6479 and 1-877-842-6273) refers people in need of emergency food assistance to food pantries, government programs, and model grassroots organizations that work to improve access to healthy, nutritious food, and build self-reliance. Help is available on Monday through Friday from 9am-6pm EST. Hablamos español. The Hotline is funded in part by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

This article originally appeared in our monthly e-newsletter, the Clearinghouse Connection, which facilitates the exchange of information, resources and ideas among emergency food providers. To subscribe, email [email protected].

Patricia Rojas