Fighting Summer Hunger

Fighting Summer Hunger

There’s nothing like summertime for kids. Schools are out, and they can turn off their alarm clocks, play freely, and enjoy evenings with no homework until school starts again in the fall. There is a ton of excitement.

With all the optimism and adventure surrounding summer, it is important to remember that hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation. In fact, for many kids in our area, 1 in 5 to be exact, the problem becomes even more pronounced. While school is in session, many children rely on school meal programs for regular access to nutritious food. For these kids, when hallways and cafeterias empty, so do their pantries and stomachs. Reliable sources of meals they count on disappear.

Summer meal programs exist but can be difficult for kids to access. Closing the accessibility gap is a goal that Feeding Northeast Florida, and our partner organizations strive diligently to achieve.

The Landscape of Childhood Hunger

According to Feeding America, over 13 million children in the United States experienced food insecurity in 2022. This number reflects how deeply hunger runs in our nation. Children generally have little control over their circumstances and are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of inadequate nutrition, which can impair their ability to perform well academically and affect their physical and mental health.

Feeding Northeast Florida’s Mission

Through multiple programs and the efforts of our nearly 400 partner agencies in the community, Feeding Northeast Florida stands on the frontlines in the fight against childhood hunger in our twelve-county service area. We address hunger during the school year and amplify our efforts during the summer months.

Approximately 80,000 children in our area are facing food insecurity. This number is projected to increase steadily as societal and economic factors magnify the critical need for our services. Through our network of partner agencies and with the help of staff, volunteers, and our supportive community, Feeding Northeast Florida does everything in our power to reach as many of these children as we can.

Summer Initiatives and Impact

Feeding Northeast Florida runs mobile pantry distributions throughout the summer, targeting families with children. These mobile pantries are essential for reaching people in areas with high food insecurity, and the scope of these mobile distributions varies.

Our community partners organize localized distributions to ensure enough food is available to meet a neighborhood’s immediate needs. Multiple large-scale, special distributions are also scheduled over the summer designed to accommodate as many as 500 families in just a few hours.

Our team also focuses on broader initiatives, including partnerships with local schools, summer camps, and other community organizations, to ensure that as many children as possible have access to nutritious food year-round. Our efforts align with Feeding America’s national strategies, using data-driven approaches to identify the areas of greatest need.

In these locations, we provide SnackPacks that are designed by our nutrition team to contain easy-to-open and prepare snacks and drinks kids can take with them to avoid being hungry at home.

Community Involvement and How to Help

Feeding Northeast Florida cannot fulfill our mission without the support and involvement of our community. There are multiple ways you can keep children from going hungry this summer:

  • Volunteer: There is a continuous need for volunteers to assist in sorting, organizing, and distributing food, especially during high-demand times such as summer.
  • Donate: Financial contributions are critical. Every dollar donated enables us to provide six meals for children and families in need.
  • Advocate: Get active in your community and advocate for policies that support food security and child nutrition programs.

There is no wrong way to get involved.

Looking Forward

As we look ahead to another summer, the challenge of keeping every child nourished remains formidable. Feeding Northeast Florida and our partner organizations are committed to working tirelessly to bridge the gap left by the seasonal closure of school meal programs.

Childhood and summer hunger exists in every neighborhood—even yours. Winning the fight requires a team effort from all sectors of society, including individuals, organizations, and municipalities.

When you support organizations like Feeding Northeast Florida, you ensure children in your community have the necessary nutrition to thrive—not just during the summer but all year round. Please visit our website to learn more, including actions you can take to fight summer hunger for our local children.

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