CC School Food Service receives No Kid Hungry grant to combat summer hunger

Published 11:36 am Friday, June 7, 2024

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Carter County School Food Service is among the organizations that will receive over $203,000 from No Kid Hungry to help ensure Tennessee kids get the food they need to grow and thrive this summer. 

For kids who receive school meals, the summer months can be the hungriest time of year. This year promises to be different, thanks to newly expanded guidelines that will give school districts and community organizations the flexibility to offer non-congregate meal service in many more rural communities. To support the rollout of this effort, No Kid Hungry Tennessee recently announced over $203,000 in grants to help 17 organizations across the state reach even more kids with summer meals.

For many children, free and reduced-price school meals can be a lifeline that ensures reliable access to nutrition during the school year. When schools close for the summer, however, these meals disappear, and families struggle from the strain on already-tight budgets. This can be particularly true for rural families.

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In a recent No Kid Hungry survey of rural families, parents reported on the unique hardships they faced during the summer when school is out. More than half of rural families say they don’t have enough money for food during the summer. Over 80% spend more on groceries when their children are out of school for the summer – an average of $168 more each month.

Summer meal programs were designed to provide healthy meals during summer vacation but have historically only reached a fraction of the kids who need them due to barriers like transportation, fuel costs, extreme weather and parents’ work schedules. In rural areas, where kids often live many miles from their closest meal site, these challenges have been particularly stark.

“There’s long been a huge gap between the number of kids getting meals in the summertime and the kids who really need them – particularly in rural communities. New flexibilities for summer meals in rural communities means that no longer has to be the case,” said Marissa Spady, No Kid Hungry Tennessee senior manager. “We’re excited to support these schools and community groups in offering summer meals in ways that work for their community – like allowing families to pick up multiple meals at a time or even offering home delivery.”

No Kid Hungry’s grant funding supports the adaptations needed to reach as many kids as possible with summer meals, including meal delivery, refrigeration and transportation costs.