The seed experiment: Tracking the progress of America’s children

Marian Wright Edelman | 5/5/2014, 5:44 a.m.
A perennial favorite science project from preschool on up is the “seed experiment.”
Marian Wright Edelman

In fiscal year 2012, more than 21 million children received free or reduced-price lunches through the National School Lunch Program and nearly 11 million children received free and reduced price breakfasts. Hunger doesn’t end on the last day of school – yet only 11 percent of the number of children who relied on those lunches during the school year received meals through the Summer Food Service Program.

Even though the program is 100 percent federally funded and can create desperately needed jobs for cafeteria workers and others during the summer months, many states and communities have created needless bureaucratic hurdles to establishing summer feeding sites resulting in not nearly enough sites to serve all eligible children. But it’s not too late to find out how you can help – or how children you know can participate.

The Children’s Defense Fund is encouraging CDF Freedom Schools partners to use the summer feeding program to provide nutritious meals and snacks for children attending summer CDF Freedom Schools programs. The USDA, which administers the summer feeding program, says there are many ways individuals and organizations can get involved: “You can serve the meals, promote the program, provide transportation, volunteer at summer food sites, or even go out and find sponsors.”

The USDA’s “Summer Meals Toolkit” provides information on sponsors, sites, links to state agencies, and much more, or call 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE. If there are not enough summer feeding sites in your community, ask why not. Help make sure children in your community are getting the basics and that there are no hungry children in your community this summer.

Many plants blossom and thrive all summer long. Children should be able to do the same.

Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund whose mission is leave no child behind. For more information go to http://www.childrensdefense.org.