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New Report Finds Fewer Kids in the Delaware Valley Have Access to Summer Meal Programs

Philadelphia, Pa – June 18, 2014 – Summer in the Delaware Valley is fast approaching and thousands of children who receive free and reduced school breakfast and lunch are at risk of missing meals this summer.  The newly released study from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) reported that one in six children in need benefits from summer meal programs in Pennsylvania. Philabundance, the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization, is gearing-up to provide more food to families with children this summer.

While many families are looking forward to vacation, thousands of families are scrambling to figure out how to put food on the table over the next few months. There are more than 300,000 children in the Delaware Valley who are eligible for free and reduced meals in school.  More than 231,000 of those children live in Pennsylvania and nearly 72,000 children live in New Jersey all within Philabundance’s nine county service area in the Delaware Valley.

FRAC’s report Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation found that summer meals reached only 18.7 students for every 100 low-income children who received school meals in the 2012-2013 school year. This is a decline from the summer of 2012, when summer meals were reaching 20.3 out of every 100 children in low-income households who rely on school meals.

Research has found that children consume up to 50 percent of their total daily caloric intake through school meals.  Thousands of families can’t afford to buy additional food needed for the meals their kids need in the summer. A family of four with two school-aged children who rely on school meals needs to provide 80 additional meals every month this summer, which adds a cost of $240 to the monthly food expenses.

“It’s often said that the three happiest words a mother can hear is ’I love you’, but in far too many homes this summer, the three most gut-wrenching words a mother will hear is ‘what’s for dinner or lunch’,” said Bill Clark, president and executive director of Philabundance. “More families are struggling to make ends meet, and the additional meals required to feed their children in the summer months lead to more stress and missed meals.”

In an effort to focus on alleviating children’s hunger this summer, Philabundance will also be doing a summer food distributions of food through the KidsBites initiative.  Summer food distributions will happen twice a month at Stetser Elementary in the City of Chester, Delaware County, starting on June 25thon the second and fourth Wednesday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Two Thursday monthly food distributions will occur on July 17th and August 21st from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Lowell Elementary School in the Olney section of Philadelphia.  The summer KidsBites’ distributions will provide nutritious food staples for children and their families who attend those schools.

Pennsylvania families can find nearby summer meal sites at www.pasummermeals.com or by calling the Pennsylvania Department of Education at (717) 783-6501. New this year from USDA is “SummerFoodRocks,” a free web-based application that features a site locator and search tool, and works on devices such as iPads, iPhones, Blackberrys, and Androids. Visitwww.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocksto locate nearby summer meal sites near you. This app is available nationwide on June 2, 2014.

Philabundance has assembled a Hunger Hero toolkit to help educate kids on the issue of hunger in a child friendly manner. The toolkit also offers ideas and resources to help families fight hunger.  Neighbors interested in being a Hunger Hero can fight hunger in a number of ways by visiting www.philabundance.org/summerhunger.

The toolkit includes:

  • A summer food drive guide
  • Summer reading list: Hunger related stories for all ages
  • A how-to guide on talking to your kids about hunger

For those looking for to be a Hunger Hero this summer or make a donation visit  www.philabundance.org/summerhunger to see the numerous ways to help children this summer including:

  • Donate now to The Great American Milk Drive. Donations will help provide vouchers for nutritious milk for families and individuals Philabundance serves.
  • Sign up for the Hunger Heroes Family Volunteer Night on Tuesday, August 11

https://www.philabundance.org/take-action/volunteer/

If you or someone you know is struggling this summer, please call Philabundance’s Food Help Line, 800-319-Food (3663). Visit www.philabundance.org/summerhunger for more resources.

About the report:

Data forPennsylvaniacomes from the 2014 version of the annual report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), the lead advocacy organization working to end hunger in America through stronger public policies. The FRAC report, HungerDoesn’t Take a Vacation, gives data for all states and looks at national and state trends. FRAC measures national summer participation during the month of July, when typically all children are out of school throughout the month and lose access to regular school year meals. The report is available online at www.frac.org.

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