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Hungry Kids During Spring Break: A Real Issue in the U.S.

Imagine going nine days without lunch. What if you went that same amount of time without lunch AND breakfast? It’s a reality for millions of schoolchildren during Spring Break.

One in five children in the U.S. doesn’t know where their next meal will come from. It’s a year-round problem sometimes eased by free or reduced-cost school meals. Nearly 30 million children across the country participate in the National School Lunch Program. But when Spring Break comes around, those meals disappear. For some families, that’s a big problem.

Spring Break hits during different times for different school districts – anywhere from early March to early April. But it usually includes at least a week off from school and the weekends surrounding that week, which could mean as many as nine days away from school…and nine days with no safety net for free or reduced-cost meals.

During Spring Break – and other school holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas – parents feel the financial pinch more. They need to provide extra food for their children.

“Having enough food is one of our major worries,” Ande told us. “I’m sure it is for every mother. Nobody wants to see their kid ask for food, like, ‘Mom, I’m hungry.’ It’s one of the most heartbreaking things.”

“I can spend $100 at a grocery store and come out with barely anything,” said Kim, a single working mom of two. “When my refrigerator is empty, I feel like less of a person. It takes my confidence down when it comes to being a mother, because I feel like there’s a job that needed to be fulfilled that I could not fulfil.”

And it’s not just about physical hunger. Kids who don’t have enough to eat can feel sad, stressed or even embarrassed. They might have trouble focusing or enjoying their break because their stomachs are growling, and they’re worried about where their next meal will come from. Plus, nobody wants to feel left out or different because they don’t have enough food.

Good nutrition is also a building block for children to grow up strong and healthy. Mountains of evidence show that even marginal food insecurity can be a significant predictor of poor health in children. Health issues like asthma, childhood obesity and diabetes can all be associated with food insecurity and lead to lifelong problems.

Your support makes a huge difference for hungry kids during Spring Break and beyond. Your kindness not only fills empty stomachs but also lifts spirits and brings hope to families. Together, we can help make sure that no child goes to bed hungry all year long.

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