With School Year, Lunch Programs End For Children In Need

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(Host)Schools are letting out for summer, and that can mean leisurely, care-free days for a lot of kids.

But for a striking number of Vermont children, the end of school also means they won’t be able to rely on free lunch programs.

Marissa Parisi is executive director of Hunger Free Vermont. And she says summer can be a troubling season for childhood nutrition:

(Parisi) "We have about 30,000 children right participating in the free and reduced price meal program during the school year. In the summer, only about 5,100 of those children actually have access to a summer meal program and enrichment activities." 

(Host) Summer meal programs are coordinated independently by community groups.

Parisi says programs try to provide recreational activities in addition to nutritious meals, but the funding is limited.

(Parisi) "There is federal reimbursement money for the meals that are being served in the summer. However, we really encourage programs that are starting to also offer those fun activities for kids. So that they can come and have fun with their friends or learn a new skill or just enjoy the great outdoors. But the cost of those activities are not covered by the federal meal reimbursement."

(Host) Families who want to learn about programs available in their area can call 211 or go online to Hunger Free Vermont, http://hungerfreevt.org.

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