The numbers: Kidsdata reports that 57.5% of California's school-aged children (2.3 million) are in families that meet the eligibility requirements for free or reduced-price meals during the school year. The Children's Defense Fund/California reports of the 2.3 million children eligible for free or reduce-price meals during the school year, only 107,494 were served (data from 2010).
June 21, 2013: The 270,000 students in San Bernardino's school districts who qualify for free or reduced-price meals during the school year "fall through the cracks" in the summer, according to an article in the San Bernardino Sun by Ryan Hagen and Beau Yarbrough.
...The Fontana Unified School District, for example, has 30,000 students eligible for a free or reduced meal -- about three-quarters of its total enrollment -- from September through June.
A nine-week lunch program at parks around [Fontana] reaches approximately 5,000 children, according to Eric Holliday, the district's assistant director of food services.
"I'm not sure where those (other) kids are," he said.
Many of them go hungry, says Andre Chapple, senior pastor at City of Success World Outreach in San Bernardino. "They're malnourished, and you can see it at the beginning of the school year, when they can't focus or learn." ...
City of Success is a faith-based program that is a sponsor of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) in the San Bernardino region. The Summer Food Service Program, federally funded through the US Dept. of Agriculture, provides breakfast and lunch at approved community locations to children under 18 throughout the summer; unlike the school lunch program, there are no income eligibility requirements.
Nationwide, only 1 in 7 children who qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch receive one during the summer, according to a campaign called No Kid Hungry....
In late May, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson urged eligible organizations to apply to become meal sites through the SFSP.
"During summer recess, low-income children often miss out on the daily nutritious meals and the intellectual stimulation they get at school, and then they end up lagging behind their peers when school starts again," said Torlakson. "That's why it's important for places where kids hang out, like camps and community centers, to sign up to become summer meal sites to provide good food and fun activities for families in need."
Research shows children who fail to engage in high-quality summer learning are less likely to be physically active or receive proper nutrition. These factors contribute to a phenomenon called summer learning loss. When these children come back to school, they are often behind their peers, contributing to a persistent achievement gap. This is part of the reason Torlakson participates in the Summer Matters campaign and Team California for Healthy Kids, an initiative he launched to help keep children active and properly nourished.