D.C. #1 in the Country for Reaching Children with Summer Meals, Yet Participation Slipping

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2016 – The District of Columbia continues to rank first in the nation for reaching low-income children with summer meals. According to Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation (pdf), an annual analysis by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), 22,185 low-income children in the District received summer meals on an average day in July 2015 — a decrease of 10.1 percent from the previous summer. Summer meals reached 51.9 low-income students for every 100 low-income children who received school lunch in the 2014–2015 school year, outpacing that national rate of 15.8:100.

“We can’t rest on our laurels,” said Beverley Wheeler, director of D.C. Hunger Solutions. “More must be done this summer to reverse the decline in participation in the summer nutrition programs. By doing so, we can ensure more children at risk of hunger across the District return to school in the fall healthy and ready to learn.”

The D.C. Free Summer Meals Program, administered locally by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), provides children and teens with healthy meals and snacks during the summer months. Efforts to increase the number of meal sites, conduct outreach to parents and students, and increase public knowledge of the Free Summer Meals Program have all served to increase participation. A driving factor in DC’s top national ranking is the commitment of D.C. Parks and Recreation, the city’s leading sponsor with more than 200 sites across the city that connect thousands of children each day to healthy meals.

Families in the District can find nearby summer meal sites here, by texting FOOD to 877-877, or by calling 1-866-3-HUNGRY.

About the report:

Data for Washington, DC, came from an annual report released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), the lead advocacy organization working to end hunger in America through stronger public policies. The FRAC report, Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation, gives data for all states and looks at national trends. FRAC measures national summer participation during the month of July, when typically all children are out of school throughout the month and lose access to school meals.