Keeping nutrition in while school’s out

Not enough children taking advantage of program

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Tens of thousands of kids across Massachusetts are not able to get healthy, filling meals throughout the summer months. 22News looks at why that’s happening and what some state officials are doing about it.

While nearly 57 thousand kids take part in the state’s Summer Food Service Program that provides free and reduced meal services similar to those the kids can get during the school year, it’s estimated another 300 thousand children need those services, but aren’t getting them.

Congressman James McGovern (D-Worcester) told 22News that the issue of hunger has become a political one.

“But for some reason we don’t seem to have the political will. We have the political will when it comes to going to a war, you know, we spend trillions half way around the war, maybe we spend a few bucks here I this country to end huger once and for all,” McGovern said.

McGovern, along with several other state officials, was in Greenfield Monday morning to try and raise awareness about the importance of reducing childhood hunger.

Those working with the children in the Summer Food Service Program explained to me that while each individual need of the child is different, the one thing that remains the same across the board is that having a health breakfast and lunch can drastically improve a child’s mood, behavior, and ability to learn.”

“It makes you feel good!” Bernie Novak, said. He runs Greenfield’s food and nutrition program for the city’s schools and Summer program. Novak told 22News making sure the children get fed takes a juggling act between staffing and funding.

“The kids are always hungry, they’re always eating and we try to feed them the best we can for within the constraints of the budget,” Novak Said.

The Summer Food Service program is a federal program that is administered by the state. It is available to low-income children and teens. Many of these young people are served by the School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program during the school year, and the program is intended to ensure they get the nutrition they need when school is not in session.

For more information about this program, and to find out where these meals are available, visit meals4kids.org or call 1-800-645-8333.

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