Summer Food Programs Crucial to Georgia Kids

Jun 4, 2013

While over 21 million children participated in the free or reduced priced school meal program in 2011, just over 2 million children received meals during the summer months, largely due to the lack of local programs.

School is out.

And while that may mean sun filled days of playing and enjoying the summer break, for many Georgia kids and their families it also means facing hardships when it comes to meals.

WABE’s Rose Scott reports on the importance of summer feeding programs from Atlanta to rural parts of the state.

During the school year many students get at least two meals a day through the free and reduced lunch program.

In Atlanta, that’s 78 percent of the student population.

And for DeKalb County it’s 71 percent.

Now that the summer break is here, for many kids, another food program is desperately needed.

“You know if a child is malnourished for even a brief period of time permanent impairment can result.”

Ross Fraizer is spokesperson for Feeding America.

The organization works with 200 local food banks throughout the nation.

Fraizer says one of the most difficult times to feed people at risk of hunger is in the summer.

Millions of kids will benefit from meals provided by the food banks, but Frazier says there’s another sub-population that won’t.

“The most difficult problem is always how do we reach children in remote and rural areas especially in the deep south.”

And that includes Georgia.

Falita Flowers is the nutrition program manager with Bright from the Start which is a part of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.

The statewide program works with dozens of organizations that provide meals to over 16-hundred feeding sites throughout the state.

But there’s still the challenge of reaching rural areas.

“Here in Georgia, we have a few counties that may go un-served this year. Schley county, Stewart, Webster and Haralson County; there’s a great need there, but the infrastructure and the school systems are not in a position this summer to provide meals.”

Flowers says the department is working hard to partner with neighboring counties to make sure families have access to meals.

Last year 3.6 million meals were served for the summer break.

To find a Georgia feeding site

Telephone:                                                                              1-855-550-7377

Call the United Way:                                                            211 information line

Using a cellphone text the word “foodga” to             877877