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When School Is Out, Children Are Hungry - America's Second Harvest Responds to Their Needs

7/20/2001:   During the past five years, the number of Americans who face hunger has remained steady at about 31 million. Unfortunately, of the 15.4 million children who receive free and reduced price lunches or breakfasts during the school year, many go hungry during the summer. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the number of children who receive subsidized meals at school has increased every year in the past five years, although the number of families receiving food stamps declined by one-third. More than 12 million children-20% of all children-are at or below the poverty line. Similarly, one in five of the people who visit soup kitchens are children whose health and growth may be affected by insufficient food.

America's Second Harvest, the largest domestic hunger relief organization, addresses these children's need for food. Since 1993, more than 300 Kids Cafes in 29 states have provided meals in the summer to children who receive subsidized meals during the school year. In Charleston, SC, for example, a Kids Café feeds almost double the number of children in the summer (80) as are fed during the school year (45). In Washington, DC, nearly 70% of the children who receive free and subsidized lunches during the school year receive food during the summer.

Through a network of more than 200 food banks and food-rescue programs, America's Second Harvest distributes 1.4 billion pounds of both perishable and shelf-stable food in every state and Puerto Rico. In addition to annually assisting 26 million Americans, including 8 million children, who face hunger, the organization responds to disaster relief through a partnership with the International Warehouse Logistics Association.

To publicize the fact that 12 million children in the United States face hunger every day and to encourage volunteer and financial support, America's Second Harvest, ConAgra Foods' "Feeding Children Better," and the Ad Council are sponsoring public awareness campaign. The theme is "The sooner you believe it, the sooner we can end it."

How can you help? Contact a food bank or soup kitchen in your community, or check the America's Second Harvest website (http://www.secondharvest.org) for more information, ways to volunteer, and ways to contribute to ending hunger.

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