Summer vacation is usually thought to be a fun and carefree time for school-aged children. However, for those who rely on school-based free or reduced-lunch programs as a main source of food and daily nutrition, summer could easily mean limited meals and growling tummies. Nationwide, 1 in 5 children suffer from hunger. Based on information gathered by Gleaners Community Food Bank, last year in Wayne County, 462,203 people were living below poverty, leaving a total of 350,987 meals missed each day. According to the Southeastern Michigan Hunger Study, 73% of households with children are food insecure, and 65% of children in our region participate in the School Lunch Program.
Many families in Southeast Michigan continue to struggle economically, and food security is at an all-time low. In fact, Detroit has the highest number of children living in areas of concentrated poverty. The impact of food insecurity can be devastating to children and a community. When a child is hungry, or skips meals due to a lack of access to sufficient food, he is not getting the proper nutrition for physical and mental development. This impacts how a child learns, grows, and develops. Without school lunch programs, many of our children would not only go hungry, but also miss out on their potential to learn, grow, and thrive.