USDA Comes to RI to Highlight Need for Summer Food Programs

Jul 10, 2013

The undersecretary for the US Department of Agriculture will be in Rhode Island Thursday to draw attention to the number of children who go hungry in the summer. The USDA said only a fraction of the 51,000 Rhode Island kids who depend on school for lunch take part in summer food programs.

Summertime is often a hungrier time for children who depend on free or reduced lunches at school. So during the summer the USDA offers programs across the country to help fill bellies. Undersecretary Kevin Concannon visited one such program in New Mexico that continues to haunt him.

“Where they had a yellow school bus they had been refitted for the summer. And kids would come down these dusty, unpaved roads and climb on the bus to have that lunch,” said Concannon. “These were kids coming from households, I wondered if they had water in those houses, they were very, very elementary sort of shelters. And I know those kids needed that.”

Concannon said food banks are often the primary sponsors of summer food programs. He will be at the Rhode Island Food Bank on Thursday.

The USDA reports that Rhode Island has the highest rate of food insecurity in New England and the highest rate of children living in poverty.

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