According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, more than half of Georgia’s students are eligible for free and reduced lunch at school. (For a break-down by county, view this document from the Department of Early Care and Learning). As summer break has started for many school districts and the rest will be out within the next couple of weeks, it leaves the question: Will over half of Georgia’s children who are eligible for free and reduced lunch have enough to eat this summer? As educators, you probably know who many of those children are in your classroom and have asked yourselves this very question.
In Georgia there are numerous institutions and programs in place from Federal and State governments, local charities, and churches to help fill the gap that school nutritional programs leave during the summer break. The USDA sponsors a Summer Food Service Program. To find summer food assistance sites in your area, as well as additional food assistance information, you can contact the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE. DECAL’s Bright from the Start offers free meals for children and a search engine for childcare with reduced cost meals for children. You can search for their meal program online. Many local farmers markets now accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The market in my neighborhood actually doubles SNAP dollars up to $20. Not all markets do this, yet, so check with your local market before sending anyone there.
For more information on summer nutrition for children, you can visit the Department of Early Care and Learning.