Summer means hunger for some kids

FERGUSON, Mo. - School's out for summer. For most kids that means camps and pools, but for some, it means missed meals.

The USDA is partnering with schools and organizations across the nation to make sure kids at risk of going without have something to eat every day. They were in Ferguson Thursday.

Willie Mae Anthony has five grandchildren getting free meals at Johnson-Wabash Elementary this summer.

"Sometimes there's more days at the end of the month than money," she says. "So having and knowing they're going to get a nutritional meal for at least two meals a day is awesome."

The school is one of nearly 1,000 sites across Missouri.

"During the school year we feed about 21 million children lunch, another 10 million breakfast. So altogether, 31 million children," said Audrey Rowe with the USDA. "During the summer, we only feed about 3.5 million children in these programs."

Rowe says there aren't enough sites or access to the ones that exist.

"I'm appealing if it's a church, if it's a library, if it's a community center who would like to be a site, they can still be a site, offer a meal to a child," she said.

The USDA's goal is to have as many of these summer feeding sites as possible so fewer kids will miss meals while school is out, and to keep them active while they're at it.

Rams Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams came along for the ride Thursday.

"The Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, and all these organizations...they can come talk about nutrition but when an athlete or someone shows up and says hey it is cool, I just get a chance to add whatever credibility or notoriety I have to the great things already happening in the grassroots level with a number of wonderful people I've met today," said Williams.

"A hungry stomach can't learn," added Anthony. "And they need this during the summer to keep what they have learned during the year. So feeding the stomach feeds the mind and helps the child grow."

If your organization would like to become a site, Audrey Rowe says there are sponsors to bring the meals to you, and all you have to do is distribute and the USDA reimburses.

To find out where and how to apply, visit the USDA's Summer Food Services website.


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