Why Summer Meals?

When school lets out, nearly 40,000 children from low-income households lose access to the school breakfasts, lunches, and afterschool snacks or meals they receive during the regular school year. Summer meal programs help fill this gap by providing free meals and snacks to children who might otherwise go hungry. Plus, summer meals are often paired with enrichment activities that keep kids active while they are receiving essential nutrition for their developing brains. Studies show that when children don't get proper nutrition, they fall behind their peers academically when returning to school in the fall. 

Learn more about the achievement gap many children from low-income households suffer:

  • Every summer, low-income youth lose two to three months in reading while their higher-income peers make slight gains. Most youth lose about two months of math skills in the summer.
  • These reading and math losses add up. By fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave low-income students 2 1/2 to 3 years behind their peers.
  • Research shows that while gaps in student achievement remain relatively constant during the school year, the gaps widen significantly during the summer. 
  • Nationally, low-income youth lose access to healthy meals over the summer. Six out of every seven students who receive free- and reduced-price lunches lose access to them when school lets out.
  • Summer meals are often the driving factor in children participating in a summer program. When summer meals are available, kids are more likely to participate in programming that can provide additional learning opportunities. With proper nutrition for their developing brain, they can better benefit from the activities and return to school ready to learn.

Source for bullets 1-4: National Summer Learning Association