Map gives families, allies information about 600 sites across the state
Across Alabama, over 600 summer feeding sites are serving free meals to the more than 360,000 children that participate in the free and reduced school lunch program.
Summer feeding sites fight summer hunger and protect children’s physical and academic health. All children under 18 are eligible to eat for free at summer feeding sites. While most serve lunch, many serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meal times vary by location. In addition, some feeding sites make meals available for purchase by parents and accompanying adults at a low price.
“While kids look forward to the freedom that comes with summer, many worry about where they are going to eat. We created a map of summer feeding sites to make it easier for children and their families to find places to eat,” said Kristina Scott, executive director of Alabama Possible-Alabama Poverty Project (APP).
According to the US Department of Agriculture, Alabama ranked 47th in the number of children participating in summer feeding programs as compared to free and reduced school lunch programs. Just 27,000 Alabama children, or 7.4 percent of the number of children receiving free or reduced lunch, visited summer feeding sites during July 2012. The national goal is 40 percent participation.
“Summer feeding sites are one of our most underutilized resources to fight summer childhood hunger,” said Scott, “That’s why APP is working with the Alabama Department of Education, local food banks, USDA and the Ending Child Hunger in Alabama Task Force to bring attention to this issue.”
According to research published by Feeding America, child hunger is associated with:
• Health problems: Hungry children are sick more often, more likely to be hospitalized, and to suffer physical, emotional and developmental impairment. Hunger and obesity are also closely linked.
• Educational problems: Under-nutrition before the age of three fundamentally changes the neurological architecture of the brain and central nervous system, harming a child’s ability to learn. Hungry children have lower academic achievement.
• Workforce and job readiness problems: Adults who experienced hunger as children are not as well prepared mentally, emotionally, physically or socially to perform in contemporary work environments. Child hunger leads to greater absenteeism and turnover in the work place.