While adults often reminisce about their care-free childhood summers, this time of year means a loss of critical resources for many kids across our state. Eighty percent of California students who rely on the health and academic benefits of free or reduced-price lunches during the school year miss out on similar meals during the summer. That results in a summer nutrition gap that cuts across our state, affecting nearly two million of our most vulnerable children.
Research and common sense tell us that kids need year-round access to nutritious meals. They need those meals to learn, grow, and achieve at their fullest potential. The good news: California’s summer nutrition gap is sizeable, but not inevitable.
Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) for Children is a well-tested solution that provides low-income families with nutrition assistance benefits to purchase food when school is out and students lose access to affordable school meals. Summer EBT has been found to:
- Reduce food insecurity among children and their families,
- Reduce consumption of sugars from sugar-sweetened beverages, and
- Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Summer EBT works, but it’s not yet at work everywhere, and California’s children lack access. Representative Susan Davis (CA-53) and Senator Patty Murray (WA) have introduced the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act of 2015 to make Summer EBT a reality for kids across the country.
Encourage your Congressional representatives to fight summer hunger by supporting Summer EBT. You can take action by signing on to a coalition letter here.
To learn more about California’s summer nutrition gap and Summer EBT, you can check out California Food Policy Advocates’ recently released, 2015 School’s Out…Who Ate?