Editorial: Hungry in Summer

Editorial: Hungry in Summer

There are hungry children in Northern Virginia, more so in summertime.

Summer for most children in Northern Virginia is a time of fun and activities, camp and vacation, trips to the pool and possibly to the library. Specialized camps and activities tuneup sports skills and academic skills. Parents try to ensure snacks are at least somewhat healthy.

In this environment, most of us don’t come into much contact with families that might be having trouble feeding their children. We can’t imagine that there are children who are hungry in summer.

But many children in our region don’t know what their next meal will be in summer. During the school year, many have depended on school to provide breakfast and lunch during the school year. Volunteers have stepped in to provide backpacks to go home with hungry students on the weekend.

In the City of Alexandria, 60 percent of students in public schools qualify for subsidized meals at school.

In Fairfax County, that overall number is lower at 27.5 percent, but in many areas, more than 50 percent of students qualify for subsidized meals at school.

In Arlington, more than 30 percent of students qualify for subsidized meals at school.

But most of the students who counted on school meals during the school year are not in school for the summer.

The Free Summer Meals for Kids Program provides free, healthy meals to children ages 5 to 18 at designated meal sites in Fairfax County. Sites provide breakfast and/or lunch as indicated from June 27 to Sept. 2, 2016.

Fairfax County operates more than 20 open sites in areas where more than 50 percent of students qualify for free or reduced meals where students can go in summer for breakfast and/or lunch. These locations are along the Route 1 corridor, in Herndon, Reston, Fairfax, Chantilly, Lorton, Falls Church and more. See links above for locations.

It also falls to many nonprofits and food pantries to fill the gaps, and those organizations need help keeping food available.