Kids don’t have to be hungry when school is out! Resources to find free breakfasts and lunches in your area

For literally millions of U.S. kids, summer break from school means hunger. More than 20 million children get free or reduced-price lunches on an average school day but only 6 out of 7 access free summer meals that they are qualified to receive, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Georgia, the federal government and many local charities offer summer food programs for kids so they don’t have to be hungry when they are not in school. I wanted to highlight some of the programs available to families in Georgia.

But first a few stats on hungry children in America.

From Share our Strength’s website:

  • “More than 16 million children in America are at risk of hunger. That’s more than 1 in 5.
  • 15.7 million children in America live in poverty.
  • 18.6 million children benefit from SNAP (food stamps).
  • Over 20 million children get a free or reduced-price school lunch on an average school day.
  • Only 10.5 million children get a free or reduced-price school breakfast on an average school day.
  • 6 out of 7 children who qualify for a free or reduced-price school lunch do not currently access free summer meals.
  • Sources: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; U.S. Census Bureau; Food Research and Action Center. For more statistics, please visit our Hunger Facts Page.”

There are multiple state, federal and privately-funded charities that help feed children during the summer. Below are links to many of the sites that can help you find food for your kids during the summer.

This is the link to USDA site about summer food programs

This is contact information about Georgia’s nutrition programs.

This is the a link to the Seamless Summer program in Georgia.

Georgia’s Department of Education participates in the Seamless Summer program where students are still able to get food from their schools even during the summer. If you are between 1 and 18 you can just walk up to listed locations to get a free meal. Some sites include breakfast as well. Here is more information on the program:

“An Opportunity for Schools

Kids still need good food, even when school is out. Now it’s easy to accommodate them! You can apply to operate the Seamless Summer Option through the National School Lunch (NSLP) or School Breakfast Programs (SBP). Continue the same meal service rules and claiming procedures used during the regular school year.  Although the traditional Summer Food Service Program is still available to schools, the Seamless Summer Option offers a streamlined approach to feeding hungry children in your community.

How it Works

School Food Authorities (SFAs) participating in the NSLP or SBP are eligible to apply for the Seamless Summer Option. Once approved through their governing state agency, SFAs serve meals free of charge to children, 18 years and under, from low-income areas.

The types of sites allowed to participate in this option include:

  • Open sites: all children eat free in communities where at least 50% of the children are eligible for free/reduced price school meals.
  • Restricted open sites: sites that meet the open site criteria, explained above, but are later restricted for safety, control, or security reasons.
  • Closed enrolled sites: may be in any community for an enrolled group of low-income children and meets the 50% criteria explained above. This excludes academic summer schools.
  • Migrant sites: serving children of migrant families.
  • Camps: residential or non-residential camps.

The same NSLP and SBP rules apply for meal service. Meals served are reimbursed at the NSLP and/or SBP “free” rates. For clarification on how the Seamless Summer Option differs from our other summer feeding options, we’ve created a comparison chart.

Review the Seamless Summer Option Question and Answer Guidance or contact your NSLP State Agency for more information on how to apply for the Seamless Summer Option.

Another program offered through Georgia is the Bright from the Start Summer Feed program. This is a link to their search engine where you can search via zip code for nutrition programs near you.

You can also text to find a location that is serving summer meals.  Text “Free Food” to 877-877 and you’ll receive a message telling you to reply back with your address. Currently, it directs you to the Hunger Hotline but they are planning by June that it will give you the sites in your vicinity.

You can call 211 locally or call or link to the national Hunger hotline:

Need help finding food?
Know someone who does?
Call the National Hunger Hotline at

1.866.3hungry

(1.866.348.6479)
or

1.877.8hambre (1.877.842.6273)

The National Hunger Clearinghouse collects and distributes information about programs that address the immediate and long-term needs of struggling families and individuals. The National Hunger Hotline (1-866-3 HUNGRY or 1-866-348-6479), refers people in need of emergency food assistance to food pantries, government programs, and model grassroots organizations that work to improve access to healthy, nutritious food, and build self-reliance.

This Share our Strength site offers more phone numbers and data banks for assistance.

As far as private charities go, Must Ministries is another group that I have heard a lot about from friends.

“MUST has sponsored the Summer Lunch Program since 1995 in Cobb and Cherokee Counties in an effort to answer that question. Last year, MUST Volunteers delivered 103,000 lunches to hungry children in Cobb and Cherokee Counties. This year, MUST is excited to expand this popular and impactful program to Douglas, Paulding, North Fulton and Gwinnett Communities, while continuing to grow the number of children served in Cobb and Cherokee, and plans to serve 180,000 nutritionally balanced summer lunches.”

Many of these groups are looking for volunteers as well. It would be a great way to teach kids how lucky they are to have food during the summer.

Please share these sites and phone numbers with your friends and neighbors. No child should go hungry just because school is out. Summer should be fun for everyone and not a time children dread because they know they won’t get breakfast or lunch!

What are other great ministries or programs that we can help people find around Georgia?

54 comments Add your comment

Dragonfly Lady

May 23rd, 2012
5:14 am

I received SNAP (food stamp) benefits until this month. I voluntarily removed myself from the program as I am now working and have exceeded the financial threshold for receiving benefits. my (soon to be) ex husband will continue to receive the benefits.
We used the SNAP benefits to buy fruits and veggies and Milk and meat, not processed foods. I even baked all our bread from scratch as it was more cost effective.
I was frequently angered as well when i would see others whip out their EBT cards to pay for sugar-sweetened soda and junk. I was feeding 4 not skinny adults on $380/month. I don’t understand how people can willfully NOT provide their families with nutritious, healthy meals. I also cooked every night, from scratch. We drank tea not sodas, and I’m diabetic so i was on a “specialized” diet too. It is possible.

camille

May 24th, 2012
11:26 am

Well I had lunch with my son who attends a Title 1 school and lunch is free. They tried to have a balance: pizza,carrots and brocoli, banannas and a frozen drink. Most of the food was wasted. The kids didn’t want the fruit or veggies.. I think that most kids who receive special services don’t have parents that understand and/or present a balanced meal. Yesterday they had popcorn shrimp, mac N cheese,carrots and apples. Again, food wasted.

catlady

May 24th, 2012
1:20 pm

The kids at my Title 1 school (76% free lunch) tend to eat well. They have choices as to what they can get. My gripes about the food are: WAAYY too much processed, breaded, prepackaged food, and waayy too much salt. Most of the ones who bring from home eat junk also. What are their mothers thinking? I have protested all the breaded and highly processed and individually wrapped food but I am told “that’s all they will eat.” Well, we have quite a few kids who truly get little to eat except what is at school, so I think they would eat more wholesome food, if that is what is put out there. Many literally RUN to breakfast in the mornings!

The woman who kept my oldest daughter when she was a baby had a son a year older than my daughter, He was overweight, pasty white, looked like he was raised on fish food (Bow to To Kill A Mockingbird for that phrase) The sitter couldn’t believe my daughter loved fruits and vegetalbles. She said her son would only eat “soda crackers and sweet tea.” I told her not to buy those,not to put them out and he WOULD eat something else eventually. She said her husband got mad if the boy cried, so she couldn’t do that.

Due to some of the other sitters my kids have had, they have learned to eat even more widely than I ever have. They like liver! Beets! I have had to learn to like so many things because of my kids and their love of eating them. But I REFUSE to cook liver, thank you very much!

Teachers really are discouraged about kids on free lunch who also never have any school supplies but bring $2 each day to spend on junk at the snack store.

motherjanegoose

May 24th, 2012
5:34 pm

@catlady…no liver in the kitchen here either but I do like Braunschweiger. I grew up eating beets but never really served them here. My daughter recently asked me about them and she finds that she likes them. Who knew? Hope to see you soon!