For most children, summer is a time of fun and excitement, but for 18 million children in communities across the country it means the end of access to the free or reduced-price meals that nourish them during the school year.
For every six children receiving free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs, five lose access to those meals as public schools close for the summer.
Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, in partnership with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, hosted a special Put the Heat on Hunger volunteer event last week with celebrity friends Ashley Greene and Darby Stanchfield.
The event was held at one of Los Angeles Regional Food Bank’s partner agencies, Para Los Niños Charter Elementary School. Los Angeles County, according to recent Feeding America Map the Meal Gap data, has 536,100 food-insecure children, more than any other county in the United States.
Greene, Stanchfield and other volunteers toured the school, served lunch and distributed fresh produce to 120 children at an on-site farmer’s market. Los Angeles Regional Food Bank supplied the produce, which included apples, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes and plums.
“The end of the school year is a stressful time for many families across the country, and it should not be,” said Diana Aviv, Chief Executive Officer of Feeding America. “When children lose access to school meals, their families’ grocery bills skyrocket and families are forced to make tough choices between food and other basic necessities.”
Across the nation, the Feeding America network of food banks works to bridge this summer meal gap. Last year, 127 Feeding America food banks helped distribute 9.5 million meals to children at nearly 5,000 sites like the Para Los Niños Charter Elementary School.
“We must ensure that our children receive adequate nutrition and support throughout the summer months,” said Aviv. “The Feeding America network feeds more children than any other hunger-relief organization in the county and we encourage everyone to partner with us to ensure all children have access to healthy meals regardless of the season.”
Feeding America is teaming up with its Entertainment Council members and celebrity friends to host a series of Put the Heat on Hunger events across the country. The events are designed to raise awareness of the issue of child hunger and encourage the public to get involved.
To learn more about summer hunger and how you can Put the Heat on Hunger in your community, visit FeedingAmerica.org.