Of the thousands of Nebraska children who participate in the USDA’s summer meals program, many thousands more are eligible but don’t take part, raising fears they may be going hungry.
Kevin Concannon, the agency’s Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, says non-profit groups across Nebraska are being encouraged to open their doors to the summer program.
“They could be in churches, they could even be in public libraries in some communities, boys and girls clubs, county recreation sites,” Concannon says. “We’re open to a variety of different settings.”
A study from the group Feeding America shows 20% of Nebraska children are at risk for hunger. Concannon says facilities are being lined up now at the start of spring so they’ll be ready to go when summer arrives and they’re needed for the program.
“Our goal is to increase the number of locations in the state, but also to encourage more students to participate in the program in the summertime,” he says.
The program is very important in ensuring the kids get the proper nutrition during the summer. The USDA pays for the food and its preparation while volunteers distribute it to eligible kids.
A federal report out last year found 211,000 Nebraskans are “food insecure,” meaning, they don’t always know where they will find their next meal.