Summer Hunger Among Students With Free and Reduced-Price Lunch
Child hunger is a major issue facing Louisiana, which ranks near the top in both child poverty and hunger and food insecurity. According to the Kid Counts Data Center, a project of the Annie F. Casey Foundation, 27% of all children in our state face food insecurity. As of June 2013, 413,000 low-income children in Louisiana receive free or reduced-price school lunch. That number is likely higher now with EBR Parish and other school districts opting into the new federal initiative allowing high-poverty areas to provide free meals to all students. However, only 55% of children eating free or reduced-price lunch in our state are getting school breakfast, and only 9% of children eating free or reduced-price lunch are getting summer meals.
The USDA administers the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) which provides free lunch to all children 18 and under in areas with significant concentrations of low-income children, but there are several areas within our state where this program is not easily accessible. In fact, in 2011, an estimated thirty-five thousand students who received free or reduced price lunch in Louisiana lived in a parish without a summer food service program site, and many parishes still do not, including Caldwell Parish, Terrebonne Parish, West Carroll Parish, Tensas Parish, and LaSalle Parish.
Our partner organization, Louisiana Progress Action, is working with State Representative Ledricka Thierry to bring a study resolution that would allow us to look more deeply at why participation in SFSP is so low and how we can work together to increase awareness of and participation in SFSP in areas with high rates of food insecurity. You can find the text of House Concurrent Resolution here.
For more data on Louisiana’s children, visit the Kids Count Data Center.