August 4, 2020

FRAC’s Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report released this week finds that 2.8 million children received a lunch through the Summer Nutrition Programs in July 2019, a decrease of 77,000 children from July 2018. The Summer Nutrition Programs provided lunch to only one child for every seven children who participated in free and reduced-price school lunch during the 2018–2019 regular school year.

Additionally, FRAC’s Summer Breakfast Status Report, a companion piece to the summer lunch report, found that even fewer children — only 1.5 million — received a summer breakfast.

In these reports, FRAC sets ambitious, but achievable, goals for both meal types. For lunch, FRAC challenges states to reach 40 children with the Summer Nutrition Programs for every 100 participating in school lunch. States’ ability to reach this goal varied throughout the country, with the top performers including the District of Columbia (37.7 to 100), Vermont (33.5 to 100), and New Mexico (27.7 to 100), and the lowest performing states including Oklahoma (4.9 to 100), Louisiana (5.1 to 100), and West Virginia (6.6 to 100). Nationally, the Summer Nutrition Programs served only 13.8 children for every 100 low-income children who participated in the National School Lunch Program during the regular school year. If states had met FRAC’s benchmark for summer lunch participation, an additional 5.2 million children would have been served, and states would have leveraged an additional $458 in federal summer nutrition funding.

For breakfast, FRAC challenges states to reach 70 children with summer breakfast for every 100 participating in summer lunch; however, states are currently serving breakfast to just over half (52.8 percent) of those children who participated in summer lunch. If that goal had been met, then an additional 421,000 children would have benefited from a nutritious summer breakfast, and states would have drawn down an additional $21 million in federal funding.

The Summer Nutrition Programs are the programs that schools and communities turned to when schools closed last spring due to COVID-19. With schools across the country implementing remote learning and staggering student attendance at school this year, the availability of the Summer Nutrition Programs will be critical. USDA must offer waivers similar to those that were made available last spring to help keep hunger at bay for the millions of families being impacted the economic crisis created by COVID-19.

With food insecurity expected to continue to rise due to COVID-19, the Summer Nutrition Programs can — and should — better support families. Dig into the research and see how your state is doing by reading the full summer nutrition and summer breakfast reports.