While food insecurity is a year-round issue for many low-income families, summer can be a particularly challenging time as the school year ends and with it the food assistance provided by school meals. Recent research has examined this issue and what we know about summer nutrition programs that aim to provide nutrition assistance:
- A research review funded by Healthy Eating Research, “The Academic, Behavioral, and Health Influence of Summer Child Nutrition Programs: A Narrative Review and Proposed Research and Policy Agenda,” was recently published. The review identified a gap in the research around implementation of the Summer Food Service Program. A key finding was that summer nutrition programs appear to alleviate food insecurity among at-risk populations; however, little research was found about the influence of summer programs on students’ dietary intake or weight outcomes.
- A new report from Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report 2019,” measures the reach of summer nutrition programs in July 2018. They found modest decreases in national participation in Summer Nutrition Programs in 2018, the third year in a row of such decreases. In fact, they found only 14.1 children received summer lunch in 2018 for every 100 low-income children who received a school lunch in the 2017–2018 school year. The report includes national and state data, and opportunities for improving participation.
- And, an article in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics by researchers at the University of Minnesota finds that kids experiencing food insecurity drink more sugary beverages and eat less fruit in the summer.