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Five Facts about Summer Hunger

Now that summer is here, learning is the last thing on most young people’s minds. However, the end of school also means the start of summer hunger.

If you aren’t already familiar with summer hunger and how it hurts kids, we encourage you to take a moment to read this five-point list. After all, learning about a problem is the first step we can all take towards fixing it!

1) 1 in 5 kids doesn’t know where their next meal will come from.

That’s how many kids in America are food insecure and don’t know when they’ll get to eat next – or if the food they do get will be enough.

Kids need food so they can grow physically and mentally. If they can’t get enough to eat, they can’t enjoy summer – or any other time of year.

2) Almost 30 million students in the U.S. qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school.

Federal programs aimed at supporting students can have a huge impact on a child’s access to food. During the school year, free or reduced-priced lunches, and sometimes breakfasts, are the most reliable meals a child gets to eat. But during the summer these meals go away. Families who were already struggling to afford food may find it even more difficult to do so.

3) Summer hunger can cause physical problems.

Being hungry is uncomfortable. But for kids who don’t regularly get enough nutritious food, the physical effects of hunger can go beyond a few hours of discomfort. Studies have shown that food insecurity can lead to a higher risk of illnesses, including chronic lifelong conditions.

4) Summer hunger impacts education.

During the school year, students who are hungry in class can’t focus as well and may fall behind their peers. But it gets even worse during the summer. Summer learning loss, or “summer slide,” is a phenomenon that impacts all kids but is worse for those experiencing hunger. Most students lose about two months of math learning – but students who live in poverty lose an additional two months of reading skills. In time, this learning gap can widen and impact their futures.

5) We can all help fight summer hunger.

No child should worry about going to bed on an empty stomach any day of the year – but it is especially heartbreaking to see hunger ruin a time that should be so much fun for young students. It only takes a few seconds to donate and make a difference in a child’s life. The joy you’ll feel from helping is immediate, and your impact can last a lifetime.

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