21 million low-income children rely on free or reduced-price lunches on an average school day, but only 3 million continue receiving food assistance when school ends for the summer, says a report by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), a policy group dedicated to eradicating domestic hunger and undernutrition.
The report found that in 2013, federal Summer Nutrition Programs served 161,000 more children than in the year before, a 5.7% increase. This was the first significant increase in the number of low-income children eating summer meals in ten years.
Participation in summer food programs varies widely among states. For every 100 low-income children receiving free or reduced-price lunch during the school year, only 4.5% received summer food assistance. Washington, DC has the highest level of participation, at 57.9%. This map shows how many low-income students in each state received food through the federal Summer Nutrition Programs, for every 100 who received lunch during the school year (see the interactive map here).
States should do more to provide summer meals to low-income students, says FRAC, not only to improve child nutrition, but also to jumpstart state economies. The group estimates that for every lunch that an eligible child does not receive, states miss out on $3.41 in federal funding.
Check out the full report to see what else FRAC has to say about summer nutrition.