summer lunches

55.8% of students in California during the 2011-2012 school year received free or reduced lunch. Photo by a Foothill High School staff member.

A recent article written by the Sacramento Bee’s Loretta Kalb has drawn some attention to cuts in funding for summer school courses. According to the article, close to 150,000 students from the Sacramento and Yolo counties were eligible to receive free or reduced lunch during the 2011-2012 school year. However, when summer hit, “fewer than 10 percent of them took advantage of the free meals available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

One example of this budget reduction is evident in the nearby San Juan Unified School District, where schools that are offering summer school are down to operating only four days a week rather than five like in previous years. This reduces availability of free lunches for students.

As stated on feedingamerica.org, research conducted in 2005 found that ‘food insecurity’ can be devastating to school-age children. According to the study, the reading and math skills of children without steady nutritional meals tend to develop slower than that of other children.

However, some school districts, community organizations and even libraries are doing what they can to make sure that students from low-income families are provided with the meals that they should have to learn and function.

Loretta Kalb’s article also included information about THINK Together, an organization with branches here in Sacramento designed to give schools and their students what they need to enable their full potential, nutritionally and otherwise. The organization has been assisting Woodbine Elementary School in keeping up their summer program (complete with free lunches) as well as other sites in the area.

With the support of parents, teachers, city council members, and organizations like THINK Together, we can provide the children of low-income families with the meals that they require to excel in school.

You can view Loretta Kalb’s article, which includes resources for free-meal sites in Sacramento, here.