Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 7:08 am
Lately, parents, teachers and policymakers have been experimenting with all kinds of different ways to keep unhealthy food out of schools. Some schools are limiting bake sales, as we reported earlier this year, while others are preparing lunches from scratch.
For millions of American children, the end of the school year means the end of free and reduced-price lunches that fill the gap between their appetites and their families' budgets. It's not that meals aren't available during the summer – they generally are, thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program. But getting kids to show up for those meals is harder than you'd think.
Not long after the start of the school year, Monique Sanders, a teacher at Nathan Hale Elementary School in Manchester, Conn., realized many of her students were going to bed hungry.
"It was very bad. I had parents calling me several times a week, asking did I know of any other way that they could get food because they had already gone to a food pantry," Sanders says. "The food pantry only allows you to go twice per month, so if you are running low on your food stamps or you didn't get what you needed and you're not able to feed your family, that's very stressful."