LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Summer Nutrition Program participation has increased by 23 percent in Indiana, according to a new FRAC report.
The report, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, is released annually by the Food Research and Action Center. The report showed participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs increased in Indiana, with almost 76,000 low-income children receiving summer meals. Data showed that was an increase of twenty-three percent from the previous July.
Indiana was ranked better than the national average of reaching low-income children, with 18 students for every 100 in need. Officials said the study measured the success of Summer Nutrition Programs at national and state levels, by comparing the number of children receiving summer meals to the number of low-income children receiving school lunch during the school year.
Representative of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, Emily Weikert-Bryant, told News 18 in a release that this program is very important.
“When the school year ends, millions of low-income children lose access to school meals, including about 348,000 Hoosier students. It is in our best interest to ensure that such children have adequate nutrition during the summer so they stay healthy, active and return to school in the fall ready to learn,” said Weikert-Bryant.
Nationally, the program also saw an increase. The report said that summer meal participation reached nearly three million students. That is an increase of 161,000 children or 5.7 percent from the previous year. Officials said this represents the first considerable increase in participation in a decade.
“The national increase in summer food participation is good news, but Congress will need to fix some of the underlying barriers in the 2015 Child Nutrition Reauthorization to truly repair the Summer Nutrition Programs,” FRAC President Jim Weill told News 18 in a release. “Congress needs to act to strengthen the programs so they are able to reach more low-income children, and help the program more effectively address hunger and meet increased need.”
The Summer Nutrition Programs fills the food gap for the thousands of low-income Hoosier children by providing free meals at participating summer feeding sites.
Locally, Food Finder’s Food Bank is providing summer feeding sites for low-income children in Benton, Cass, Fountain, Tippecanoe, Warren and White counties.