In almost 45 years the rate of child poverty has increased to a total of 19% in Kansas alone. That means that roughly 134,000 kids are living in poverty right now. Exactly how many of these kids are being able to stay healthy and eat a nutritionally balanced meal every day?
Well, in Kansas while attending school, around 47% of children are on the reduced or free breakfast and lunch program. However, even though there are summer food services offered by the government, only about 6% of children are taking advantage and receiving food from this program while out for summer break. That is a shockingly big difference in the amount of kids not getting the nutrition they need to stay healthy, if any, during that three month period. The question now is why is there such a remarkable 40% difference? I believe the problem is lack of advertisement and lack of transportation.
I think that during the school year and the closer it gets to summer, more children and families should be reminded of the free summer food programs within the community. Flyers should be sent home with kids to give to their parents and it should be broadcast on local news stations as well as throughout the city. In Pittsburg, Kansas school district 250 has a website where they list where the free lunches will be held that summer and what is on the menu. Any child that is 18 or younger is allowed to come eat for free with no registration or income requirements at all; however, most people aren’t aware that this program in particular has no requirements or I’m sure that the number between free lunches during the school year and during the summer would greatly decrease.
Another problem I believe to cause this difference would be lack of transportation to and from the program. During the school year, there’s a bus to pick them up and bring them home every day, but most parents that live in poverty and have children have to work during the entire day or don’t have a car to take them there. Since the program is already in place, the food and volunteers and/or teachers are already getting paid to be there so the only problem is getting the buses to run those routes during the summer. To fix this problem, I propose that we get a few organizations on campus to start raising money by a bake sale or taking donations in the oval throughout the year with all the proceeds going to help the schools be able to provide these children with a ride to and from the school each day. It would also provide these kids with some entertainment for half a day while getting free food in a safe environment. Spreading the word and having a small event with donations here and there throughout the year could mean the difference between a child getting a nutritional meal and a child starving for three months.