*CARE2 UPDATE* Fewer children in California are going hungry thanks to a new universal school meals measure which will ensure that every child can receive a free school lunch, no matter their family's income. This step, prompted by the pandemic which drove hunger levels and food insecurity to extreme highs, is a welcome one. But it still fails to address what these hungry kids will eat over the summer break. And on a federal level, this sort of move hasn't yet been reached. We must keep fighting for hungry kids across the U.S. and demand that free summer meals be made permanent nationwide!
In the U.S. there are 3-4 month breaks in school sessions during the summer for children in public schools. Unfortunately, many children face food insecurity at home -- a problem only exacerbated by the economic downturn from COVID-19. Those children rely on meals they receive at school to be able to eat -- sometimes at all on any given day. Luckily, The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said that this year they will continue to provide free meals to kids over the summer due to the pandemic. However, children will still face food insecurity next year.
That's why we are asking for the USDA to make these free summer meals available to children permanently!
According to the USDA, 11 million children in the U.S. face food insecurity. Children starving in one of the wealthiest nations in the world is an abomination. The results of food insecurity on children are severe and long lasting. They can become malnourished, develop eating disorders, and are at risk for other psychological disorders based on the fear and anxiety of not knowing whether you will have food to eat. This kind of childhood trauma can have lifelong consequences. Not to mention that a hungry kid has almost no shot of excelling in a school setting. Kids can't learn when their most basic needs are not met.
The wealth gap in the U.S. is so unbelievably extreme at this point. Minimum wage at the federal level is still $7.25 -- even if you work full time that's not enough money to support a single adult, let alone a family. And children are suffering because of it. It is morally reprehensible that we allow so many children to go hungry all the time.
It's great that for the summer of 2021, many kids will continue to get free meals, but it won't solve this problem long term. We need to make sure kids are fed for free every single summer.
Sign the petition if you want the USDA to provide free summer meals to any students who need it every year going forward. No more starving children!