More than 129,000 Delaware children receive free or reduced-price lunches during the school year, but only 27 percent of those children receive those meals during the summer. This means that after the final bell of the school year rings, many children don’t eat well.
The Food Bank of Delaware is changing that.
Thanks in part to a $440,000 federal grant, the Food Bank is helping more children sustain healthy diets this summer—to the tune of 20,000 meals a day—as well as the coming school year.
“Feeding kids isn’t easy. And feeding them in the summer definitely isn’t easy,” says Patricia Beebe, Food Bank president and CEO. “I think if we all work together, we can increase that 27 percent.”
According to Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger-relief charity in the United States, Food Bank of Delaware runs the largest summer feeding program of 200 food banks nationwide. The grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture—awarded to the Food Bank and the state Department of Education—will boost participation in the Summer Food Service Program and enhance feeding programs during the coming school year, Beebe says.
She notes studies that show a link between nutrition and how a child learns. “There’s a natural learning loss that occurs in the summer. And some of the kids aren’t getting adequate nutrition. That compounds the problem when school starts,” Beebe says. “That’s why we’re doing everything we can to make it as easy as possible for kids to get food.” (fbd.org) —D.O.