When school lets out for summer, hunger begins for many

Of the 21 million kids in the U.S. who receive free and reduced-price lunches at school, only 3.5 million participate in a summer meal program. Access to healthy meals is an urgent matter for kids in the summer months. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON — For a lot of kids, the sound of school’s final bell signals fun and freedom. But it leaves many students wondering from where their next meal will come.

“It’s counterintuitive for most Americans. We think of summertime as a carefree time for most of us and our kids. But summertime is the time of year when a child within the borders of the U.S. is much more likely to go hungry than any other time year,” says Kevin Concannon, undersecretary for Food Nutrition and Consumer Services at the United States Department of Agriculture.

Of the 21 million kids in the U.S. who receive free and reduced-price lunches at school, only 3.5 million participate in a summer meal program. That leaves a gap of 15 million or 16 million children who most likely don’t have access to regular meals in June, July and August, the USDA reports.

“They are the group of children most at risk,” Concannon says. “When those schools are closed


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