When school lets out, millions of children look forward to camps, pools, and blockbuster movies. However, many children will also experience hunger. When school is in session, low-income students receive free or reduced-price school meals that help families stretch their food budget. When the school year ends, those school meals are no longer available to those students and some families will struggle to fill this gap.
We here at the USDA have been working hard to reduce childhood hunger when school is out. One way we are accomplishing this goal is through the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) for Children demonstration project. The project, funded by Congress in 2010, has shown clear results in reducing very low food security among children, the most severe form of childhood hunger. A rigorous evaluation indicated that Summer EBT for Children:
- Reduced the most severe form of childhood hunger by 33%
- Allowed children to eat more healthfully. Children in the demonstration project ate 13% more fruits and vegetables, 30% more whole grains and 10% more dairy
- Reached 30-75% of children eligible for free and reduced-price school meals
With strong evidence of reducing severe childhood hunger and encouraging healthy eating, the President’s Budget included a request for $30 million to support scaling up the Summer EBT for Children demonstration project in the 2015 budget request. In summer 2013, eight states and two Indian tribal organizations (ITOs) took part in the project and all together they reached 100,000 children in low food security households.
Additional funding to scale up Summer EBT for Children would not only reduce childhood hunger when school is out and encourage healthier eating, but allow us to learn more about food insecurity among children and the best approaches to reducing it long-term. We will continue to share the results of our projects with all of our anti-hunger partners and continue to work with them to end childhood hunger once and for all.
For more information about the Summer Food for Children Demonstrations please visit: www.fns.usda.gov/ops/summer-food-children-demonstrations