Last month I reported about the unique program the Cincinnati Public Library has by offering summer feeding for children at its locations. The YMCA is also coming through in the fight against child hunger. Food will be provided at more than 1,000 YMCA sites across the country this summer.
The Walmart Foundation donated $5.3 million to support this feeding program. Meals and snacks will be distributed to children up to age 18 at participating YMCAs.
The YMCA says it expects to feed 5 million meals to 150,000 children with this summer program. Children go the Y for various sports and enrichment programs, so having meals available there makes sense.
When schools are closed children lose access to the free and reduced price meals which many families count on. There has to be substitutes and local organizations like the Y need to come forward. It is also an issue of funding. That is where Walmart and other sponsors come in.
According to Feeding America's study, the child hunger rate in the United States is 21.6 percent. So we know from these numbers that feeding programs are needed year round. The rates of child hunger are especially high in states like California, where it exceeds 26 percent.
Summer is a great opportunity for children to learn, develop and be prepared for the next school year. However, if they cannot get enough, nutritious food during the summer months they will be struggling when the new school year opens.
It's also important to note that the cuts to food stamps have been in effect since November of last year. This meant needy families had less purchasing power at groceries. The free and reduced price meals available during the school year continued to offer a safety net after the food stamps were reduced. Now that summer is here we need to make sure those meals continue for families who are struggling to put food on the table.
You can find out locations for the YMCA summer feeding by visiting their web site at ymca.net/summerfood.