July 21, 2024

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America’s kids are going hungry over the summer

2 min read

Classes ending in June means boundless joy for kids, right? Not if they’re among the 30 million students who qualify for the federally-assisted meal program and who now likely face “summer hunger”—the result of food-insecure families losing access to the free breakfasts and lunches their children rely on at school throughout the rest of the year, bringing more anxiety, health issues, and academic decline.

“We know summer is the hungriest time of year,” says Rachel Sabella, director of No Kid Hungry New York, a campaign aiming to end childhood hunger nationally, which partnered with HelloFresh and YouGov to commission a survey on the topic. It revealed that 41% of parents struggle in some way to provide food when school is closed, and that nearly half (44%) of parents are more worried now than they were this time last year about getting their kids fed. 

Further, it found that among parents who struggle to provide for everyone in the household, 75% are at least somewhat concerned about the ability to afford food during school breaks, while almost half (42%) reported skipping meals themselves to make sure their kids got fed. The majority said they have either budgeted more carefully (60%) or cut back on other expenses (52%) to address the summer food concerns.

The survey, which was fielded in May and had its findings released on June 20, gathered responses from 459 U.S. parents of children under 18. 

It sought to get up-to-date information about the realities of summer hunger, which experts already know leads to physical, behavioral, and mental-health problems for kids as well as poor academic performance when school begins again, known as the “summer slide,” which disproportionately affects low-income children—not to mention the effect on a parent’s mental health, who may experience depression and anxiety due over the struggle to nourish their children.

“We know that when kids and families are missing meals, it impacts both…

Beth Greenfield

2024-06-20 20:00:00

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