Free Summer Meals Available to Kids

Dear Editor:

With summer approaching, children who rely on school lunches as a source of nutrition may think that they will no longer have access to free healthy meals.

Low-income families say that they must generate approximately $300 more per month when their children are out of school. However, fewer families may have to stretch their tight budgets if more of them become aware of the free summer meals offered by the USDA.

Statistics suggest that many families are currently unaware of these programs. While 21 million children rely on free and reducedpriced school lunches during the school year, only three million are getting free summer meals.

Over time, this lack of awareness can become detrimental, particularly for low-income families. Obesity and diabetes tend to become more prevalent as you go down the socioeconomic scale because energy dense foods are often the cheapest when measured in cost per calorie.

A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the energy cost of different foods and found that one dollar could buy 1,200 calories of chips or cookies, and only 250 calories of whole foods like carrots. However, the free lunches provided by the USDA follow their own guidelines for nutrition.

With free nutritious lunches available throughout the summer, there is no excuse for allowing the families in our community to think that they must compromise their children’s health due to lack of financial means.

I urge you to publicize the availability of these summer meals. There are locations right in the vicinity of Ridgewood that will be providing them this summer, such as I.S. 93, Grover Cleveland High School, and the Queens Library in Glendale. Additional sites can be found at newyorkcity.nokidhungry.org. I hope that you will join in the effort to ensure that no child will go hungry this summer.

Nicole Follenius
Middle Village

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