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NH "Needs Work" in Getting Summer Meals to Kids

Summer programs aren't just for fun. Many also provide free meals to lower-income children. A new report ranks New Hampshire 26th in the nation for providing access to those meals. (USDA)
Summer programs aren't just for fun. Many also provide free meals to lower-income children. A new report ranks New Hampshire 26th in the nation for providing access to those meals. (USDA)
July 14, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. – The number of lower-income children getting access to free summer meals is down nationwide, and the Granite State finds itself in the middle of the pack.

Crystal FitzSimons, director of School and Out-of-School Time Programs at the Food Research and Action Center, says New Hampshire ranks 26th nationwide for how well it does in providing access to those free summer meals.

FRAC tracks summer meal programs across the country.

FitzSimons says the state did show some improvement, including a 6 percent increase in the number of food sites available, and that resulted in more lower-income children getting fed.

“New Hampshire has struggled with the Summer Nutrition Program,” she states. “They did increase participation by 8.5 percent last year. But they do have more work to do.”

One of FRAC's goals is to see at least 40 children receiving summer meals for every 100 who get free or reduced-price meals during the school year.

New Hampshire lags in that department with just over 13 children out of 100 getting the free summer meals.

FitzSimons says summer programs deliver a double punch, because they reduce childhood hunger and help ensure that children return to school ready to learn.

"Kids come to the programs because of the great summer programming that's happening, and for the meals as well,” she explains. “And one of the big challenges that we have is there is not enough funding for summer programs in low-income communities, and for low-income kids."

The report identifies the 21st Century Community Learning Centers as the largest federal funding source for summer and after-school programs.

It notes the Trump administration has proposed to defund the program entirely for 2018.



Mike Clifford/Scott Herron, Public News Service - NH