For children, hunger doesn’t stop when school ends

WASHINGTON — Hunger doesn’t take a vacation.

That’s why a number of school systems in the area make sure that kids don’t suffer a “nutrition gap” when school lets out.

There are summer food programs from Frederick, Maryland to Fairfax, Virginia that make sure kids can get the meals they need to carry them through the day. Some school systems even continue a breakfast program, since for many kids the only meals they get consistently come when they go to school.

In Fairfax County, more than 50,000 kids qualify for free and reduced meals. In Montgomery County, nearly one third of the county’s 144,000 students qualify for the food programs.

Federal data shows that 14.5 percent of U.S. households experienced food insecurity in 2012, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In Virginia, The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) kicked off Thursday. The program provides free meals to children when school is out and is available for children and teenagers 18 years and younger. Families can find the closest meal site by texting “food” to 877-877, calling 211 or calling 866-3-HUNGRY.

In Maryland, residents can call 877-731-9300 for information on where and when meals are served. The SFSP is for children and teens ages 18 and younger, and for adults 19 years and older who have mental or physical disabilities. More information on the SFSP program in Maryland is available here.

In the District, the program is also open to youth ages 18 and younger. More information on the Washington, D.C. SFSP program is available here from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

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