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School's Out, But Hunger Isn't
Second Harvest Food Bank Aims to Prevent Childhood Hunger During the Summer as Thousands of Children Lose Access to Free and Reduced-Price School Lunches
“Childhood hunger is a serious problem that can hamper children’s healthy growth and development, which affects their ability to do well in school,” said Kathy Jackson, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. “We want to make sure children have enough nutritious food to eat this summer so they can stay healthy and start school in the fall ready to learn.”
Second Harvest Food Bank recently launched its Share Your Lunch campaign to raise awareness about childhood hunger during the summer and ensure that local children get enough to eat. The Food Bank will provide food to nearly 100,000 children each month this summer.
About 70,427 school children in Santa Clara County and 21,590 in San Mateo County receive free and reduced-price lunches through the National School Lunch Program, according to California Food Policy Advocates’ 2011 report “School’s Out…Who Ate?” Compounding the issue of summer hunger is the decline in summer school due to state budget cuts.
Childhood hunger can have a significant and lifelong affect on emotional and physical health. Children who struggle with hunger often suffer from feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. In addition, hungry children are sick more often and ironically are more likely to be overweight than children who get three meals a day.
Lack of enough nutritious food can also affect children’s ability to concentrate and do well in school. The effects of hunger can impact these children even into adulthood.
Second Harvest Food Bank is working to make sure no child goes hungry this summer by increasing the amount of food provided to programs that serve children, such as day camps and other summer youth programs, as well as Second Harvest’s food assistance programs that specifically serve families with children, including:
• Family Harvest – a monthly food distribution at partner sites for families with children
• Kids NOW – a weekly program that sends food home with children each Friday so there are snacks at home during the weekend
“We are providing more protein-rich foods and foods that can be used for kids’ meals, such as peanut butter, turkey dogs, and turkey lunch meat, in addition to other kid-friendly foods like bananas, granola bars, and low-sugar cereals,” Jackson said.
Second Harvest Food Bank supplies food to more than 650 pantries and meal programs throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, which provide much-needed food to children and their families. Additional food for children is being provided to pantries this summer as well.
Second Harvest Food Bank’s Produce Mobile can help families get more produce for their children all year long. The Food Bank also helps families apply for CalFresh (food stamps), which can help them buy the nutritious foods they need to feed their children.
Families who are concerned about feeding their children this summer can call Second Harvest Food Bank’s Food Connection hotline at 800-984-3663 to learn about food assistance programs that can help.
You can join Second Harvest Food Bank in preventing childhood hunger this summer by supporting Share Your Lunch. To learn more or get involved, visit http://www.SHFB.org/
Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties is the trusted leader dedicated to ending local hunger. Since its inception in 1974, Second Harvest has become one of the largest food banks in the nation, providing food to an average of nearly one quarter of a million people each month. The Food Bank mobilizes individuals, companies and community partners to connect people to the nutritious food they need. Nearly half of the food distributed is fresh produce. Second Harvest also plays a leading role in promoting federal nutrition programs and educating families on how to make healthier food choices. Visit http://www.SHFB.org to get involved.