Children of low-income families could get the same kind of hearty school lunch in summertime that they do during the school year, but a national study released today shows barely one in five do. Lynn Parker’s Director of Child Nutrition with the Food Research and Action Center. Just over 3-million kids get meals during summer months at parks-and-recreation sites, schools, boys and girls clubs — but fifteen-million are fed during the school year. She says, in the nation as a whole, about 21 kids are served in summer for every 100 in the regular school year’s lunch program, but in Iowa it’s only 7-and-a-half kids served for every 100. Parker says there are actually two programs that can provide low-cost meals to children in summertime.The Summer Food Service program can be used by schools, parks and recreation departments, and local organizations like YMCAs and Boys and Girls clubs, and the other program is for school lunches for kids who are attending summer school. If Iowa did as well as some of the leading states, it could feed almost 40-thousand more kids in summer months, and that would bring almost 2-million dollars in federal lunch program money, which she points out would help not only kids but the workers and schools and overall state economy. Rural states in particular lag behind in serving low-income kids, because rules that require a certain population in any area served can be hard to follow where farm families are spread out. Congress is working now to reduce paperwork and make more rural neighborhoods eligible for the programs, which could make a big difference for rural states. Iowa does rank 19th for its increase in the number of kids served by summer-lunch programs.
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