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Children Are At Risk From Lack Of School Lunches

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Monday, July 16, 2007   


Summer vacation may mean leisure time for schoolchildren, but it can also mean a lack of health for disadvantaged kids who are missing the essential nutrition they get from school breakfasts and lunches.

Federal studies reveal that the seasonal loss of healthy meals can lead to cognitive loss and physical disabilities later in life. Jeanine Brugge with Catholic Charities, Diocese of Rockville Center, says the problem is especially acute on Long Island, where less than a quarter of eligible children are getting the summer nutrition they need.

"Adequate nutrition is very important for kids. It can impact their cognitive and physical development, as well as their school performance. These have a lasting impact, even in their adult lives."

A recent Department of Agriculture study found the number of children facing food insecurity has grown in recent years. But there's a nutritious solution available through the federal Summer Food Program, which provides free local meals throughout the season. Any family can take part by calling 1-800-522-5006.

Brugge says the Summer Food Program is designed to ensure the health of both schoolchildren and family budgets.

"There are no income eligibility guidelines or residency restrictions.
Meals are served at local sites by nonprofits, schools, camps and recreation centers."

Food insecurity is also a national problem, with nearly 40 million facing inadequate nutrition, representing a 23 percent increase over five years.



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