COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- One in four Ohio children living in food insecure households do not have access to adequate nutrition, especially during the summer months. Children struggling with food insecurity are more likely to need to repeat a grade at school and experience higher rates of diabetes and other chronic conditions.
Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2013 report shows the issue impacts nearly 680,000 Ohio children.
“We cannot continue to leave our children without adequate, reliable nutrition,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. “Even one experience with hunger can have a negative impact on the health of children 10 and 15 years later.”
Lack of access to adequate food for children spikes during the summer months, when those children who normally receive free or reduced-price school meals must rely on the federally-funded Summer Food Service Program and other privately funded child nutrition programs. However, Hamler-Fugitt says only about 10 percent of those students that need it are getting help from the program.
The good news is that there has been a 10 percent increase in the number of Summer Food Service Program sites operating in Ohio, making more access points available to needy families.
“The Summer Food Service Program is a vitally important resource for low-income families. Children can not only access nutritious foods, but educational and recreational programming as well,” said Hamler-Fugitt.
She says demand started spiking in May as more and more schools dismiss earlier in the year.
A total of 800,000 students in Ohio get a free or reduced breakfast or lunch at school.
To learn more about the Summer Food Service Program in Ohio, visit the Ohio Department of Education’s website or call 1-855-570-7377 to find a site near you. To view the interactive Map the Meal Gap report, visit Feeding America’s website at www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap. To view the full Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation report, visit FRAC’s website at www.frac.org.