A new report from the Food and Health Network of South Central New York on food insecurity among children shows a big gap in how many kids eat free lunches during the school year and during the summer.
On a typical school day, about 33,000 kids file into lunch lines across the Southern Tier to eat for free or reduced prices lunches. But when the bell rings on the last day of school, that number drops dramatically.
Only a quarter of those kids also eat meals provided by community centers and schools and churches through the federal Summer Food Service Program.
There’s two main barriers keeping kids from getting to the lunch sites and they both have to do with transportation.
For one, kids don’t have a way to get to the sites in the first place, especially in rural communities.
Plus, it’s not always worth it financially for the family to spend precious gas money to find just one meal.
Anti-hunger groups in Tioga County are looking into solutions to get kids the food they need during the summer, like finding money to offer lunch to their parents or food to take back home with them.