More than 2.5 million Texas students are enrolled in the School Lunch Program, but just a fraction of those participate in the federally funded Summer Food Program, according to a report the Center for Public Policy Priorities released toay.
The program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides $40 million to Texas communities to help feed children in low-income families after the school year ends. Participation in the program has grown from less than 100,000 in 1998 to more than 456,000 in 2008, according to CPPP. Still, only about 18 percent of the 2.5 million children who get free or reduced price lunches at Texas schools, get food in the summer.
The organization had some recommendations to help make sure more kids get their three squares year-round:
• Local communities must come together to identify potential Summer Food Program sponsors.
• Texas Department of Agriculture should redouble its efforts to recruit more sponsors and encourage sites to stay open longer.
• The Legislature should renew its commitment to the Summer Food Program by expanding the school district mandate to require more districts to sponsor the program.
• Congress should raise Summer Food reimbursement rates, expand eligibility, provide funding to help solve the transportation problems in rural areas, and reduce administrative barriers.
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