Bridging The Summer Food Gap

By Lori Webber
Fight Hunger

As summer rolls around, children across the country look forward to long days of play and exploring with their friends, and a break from the confines of the classroom. However, for those children who rely on school meals as a consistent source of nutrition, the summer break poses a significant challenge to them and their families. 

The Hard Facts:

During the summer months, food insecurity rates among children tend to rise due to the absence of school meals. According to the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), only 15% of the children who receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year participate in summer meal programs.

For millions of children, school meals play a crucial role in their overall well-being. These meals not only provide essential nutrients but also act as a safety net against food insecurity. However, when the academic year comes to an end, so does this reliable source of nutrition. 

Children from low-income families are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity during the summer. Without access to school meals, their families often struggle to provide enough food to compensate for the loss of two meals a day, leading to hunger, malnutrition, and various health-related issues for at-risk children.

Barriers to food access can be exacerbated by limited availability of summer meal programs, like in rural communities, or by distance to program sites where families lack reliable transportation options. 

Food Insecurity’s Impact:

Hunger and malnutrition during the summer break can negatively impact children’s academic performance. Studies have shown that children who experience food insecurity over the summer tend to experience learning loss and have difficulty catching up academically when they return to school.

Food insecurity can also take a toll on children’s emotional well-being. The stress and anxiety associated with not having enough to eat can affect their mental health, leading to feelings of shame, embarrassment, and social isolation. Hungry children are more likely to experience difficulties concentrating, retaining information, and participating in class activities. The lack of proper nutrition also increases their vulnerability to illnesses, making them more prone to chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.

How can you help?

Addressing food insecurity during the summer months is crucial to ensure that all children have the nutrition they need to flourish. Supporting summer meal programs, local food pantries, and community-based initiatives can make a significant difference. Please join PORCH as we team together to fight hunger this summer by donating at: