The Cincinnati Public Library just wrapped up its feeding program for children this summer. The Library distributed meals at fourteen of its branch locations. This was an expansion of feeding sites over the previous year.
Here are the results. The Library served 18,704 meals this summer to children, which is a 36 percent increase over the previous summer. Diane Smiley, the program coordinator, says, "participation was good and clearly filled a definite need in the community."
The need for summer meals and feeding sites is significant because when schools are closed, the free or reduced priced lunch is not available. Summer feeding sites have to fill in this gap until the school year starts again.
Nationwide there are around 21 million children who receive free and reduced-priced school meals, but only about 3.5 million take part in the summer feeding program. Establishing more feeding sites is critical and the Cincinnati Public Library has certainly stepped up to the plate.
In the area served by the Cincinnati Public Library (Hamilton County), the child hunger rate exceeds twenty percent. These figures are according to a study by Feeding America.
The impact of summer meals can have long lasting implications for a child's education. Kevin Concannon, the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, says,
poor nutrition during the summer months can also affect children’s academic performance during the school year. USDA’s summer feeding programs help children get the nourishing food they need all year long so they come back to school in the fall ready to learn."
Cincinnati's plan to have summer feeding sites is one benefiting the entire community. When asked about next summer's library feeding sites Smiley replied, "Expanding the number of or changing some of the sites next year is certainly a possibility that we’ll consider in the spring."