Summer shouldn’t mean going hungry.
Ten-year-old Charlie lives in Exeter; unlike some Rhode Island children, he doesn’t look forward to summer vacation. When asked why, he responds with a question of his own: “What will I eat for lunch?” While the innocence of his question is heartbreaking, it echoes the concerns shared by many young Rhode Islanders.
Like Charlie, 70,000 Rhode Island students lose access to nutritious meals each summer when schools place their breakfast and lunch programs on hold. Thankfully, this setback doesn’t mean they need to go hungry; families that call United Way 2-1-1 in Rhode Island are connected with sites that provide free meals to children.
These sites are part of Rhode Island’s Summer Food Service Program; a federally funded, state-administered initiative that works with school districts, local governments, and nonprofit agencies to give children an opportunity to enjoy fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains over the summer.
Here in the Ocean State, 450,000 meals and 19,000 snacks were served last year alone. This summer, with 150 sites in 15 communities, more young Rhode Islanders will have easy access to healthy foods, allowing them to focus on more important things — like playing with friends and staying up late.
Since Charlie no longer needs to worry about lunch, he can finally look forward to summer vacation with the same level of excitement that all children deserve to experience.
By: Jason Boulay, Project Manager Digital Media Marketing, UWRI