Bend Bulletin: Letter to the Editor

Today's Bend Bulletin published a letter to the editor by Lesley Nelson, Child Hunger Prevention Manager, about our Summer Food Participation report. Read Lesley's letter below. 

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[Courtesy of Bend Bulletin, June 18, 2014]

Summer meals for kids offer many benefits

I applaud the paper’s editorial board for casting light on an issue that’s important to thousands of kids in Central Oregon: summer hunger (“Summer School Lunches Can Help Kids,” June 12).

As our latest report shows, an alarming summer food gap persists in some Central Oregon counties. Each of us, from local elected leaders to community members, can play a role in bridging this gap — from starting a summer meal site, spreading awareness of existing sites or lending support to enrich current programs.

The benefits of kids attending summer food sites extend beyond the program’s core mission of serving nutritious meals. Many Summer Food Service Program sites in the region also offer opportunities for kids to improve reading skills or expand their understanding of science, while fostering critical social engagement. As a result, summer meal sites help kids avoid summer learning loss, which happens when kids don’t have access to enough enriching activities during the three months when they’re away from the classroom.

Increasing the number of kids who have access to the summer food program will only be possible if more people help make the case to their communities as to why additional sites are needed, and advocate to increase the number of days they serve meals. Ending the summer food gap in Central Oregon means more kids will have the fuel they need to learn, grow and develop their talents.

Lesley Nelson