Concern Summer Lunch Program Not Available in Rural Areas

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

While education is key, some kids attend school to get a hot meal, and when school runs out, so does the food.

One out of every two kids in Michigan qualifies for free or reduced lunches.

"It's huge, and in some communities it's like 90 percent, so it's a huge number," said Jane Zehnder-Merrell who works at the Michigan League for Public Policy.

The summer break means some kids might go hungry.

The state has launched a new interactive map showing where free lunch locations are. (Click on the link above to find the closest location near you.)

The problem is, to name a few, in places like Mason, Grand Ledge, DeWitt, Williamston, Eaton Rapids and Stockbridge no lunch sites exist, and Lansing can't feed everyone.

"We can't do the other locations, we just don't have the resources--financially. We are barely piecing together what we need to in the City of Lansing," said Dr. Joan Jackson Johnson the Director Human relations, Community Services.

That said, the City doesn't card kids, and any children who show up will get a meal.

"We want to increase that access for kids, and we are willing to partner and to work with whoever we can to feed as many kids in the summer time as we can," said Kyle Guerrant, of Michigan Department of Education.

The state only provides the food, not the facilities. Unless organizations apply there's no place to for the kids to eat. And there's one more problem.

"You have to have a certain number of kids that are going to come on that average, on a daily basis to access the meals. If these sites can't get an average kind of participation it makes them hard to keep the doors open because of funding," said Guerrant.

"It's definitely an issue. If kids don't get the nutrition that they need during the years that their bones are forming and that they're whole physical well being depends on adequate nutritious food, it will have life long impact," said Zehnder-Merrell.

The state said it's not too late for communities to add more sites. They just need to contact the state Department of Education.


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