Park and recreation agencies serve 560,000,000 meals to children through summer and afterschool programs each year.
During the summer months, millions of low-income children lose access to the school breakfasts and lunches that they rely on throughout the school year. The lack of nutrition and summer enrichment programs can lead to negative health and development outcomes for children, including weight gain and summer learning loss. The Food Research and Action Center(FRAC) reports that for every 100 low-income children who ate school lunches in the 2014-2015 school year, just 15.8 children, or roughly one in six, participated in the Summer Nutrition Programs in July 2015. Unfortunately, this issue is not confined to just summers, but exists during before and afterschool periods as well.
The National Recreation and Park Association is working with national partners to address this staggering statistic and eliminate child hunger during all out-of-school times. As the largest public provider of children's meals during the summer months, park and recreation agencies are capable of quickly and effectively reaching children in need with nutritious meals. In fact, park and recreation agencies are on the front line in addressing many community health needs, including children's nutrition.
In 2015 with support from the Walmart Foundation, 80 local park and recreation agencies served over 20 million meals to underserved youth.
To learn more about nutrition programs, contact the state child nutrition agency.