SEATTLE — Highlighting the struggle with food insecurity, Northwest Harvest's Christina Wong said summertime is anything but fun for children living with hunger.
“We hear a lot of awful stories of parents who are skipping meals so their kids can eat first," said Wong, the director of public policy and advocacy for Northwest Harvest. "Or [they] may be taking on extra jobs when they're already working more than 40 hours a week in order to be able to afford that food.”
Wong said one in three households with children in Washington state is experiencing hunger.
“It's not [summer] vacation for families that are experiencing hunger," Wong said.
Nationwide, one in four families with kids are living with hunger. According to the Rapid Survey Project, 23% did not have enough food to eat and could not afford to buy more.
Since nearly the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic - the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (USDA) has helped states switch to their Summer Food Service Program or Seamless Option to serve meals to children when schools are closed. Through these summer meal programs, USDA allows sites to serve up to two free meals a day to children 18 and under.
These services were made possible by a federal waiver set to expire June 30.
Wong said this program is vital for families.
“Child hunger is so explosively high, like unprecedented levels," Wong said.
Because there has not been any action by Congress to extend the waiver, Northwest Harvest in Seattle is directing families to several resources it provides, including local food bank offerings and the USDA's Summer Meals Site Finder.
Some of the available meal sites have services through June only while others will provide meals through July.
To search for a summer meal site near you, click this link.
Families can call 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) or text “Food” to 304-304.
For Spanish, families can call 1-877-8-HAMBRE (1-877-842-6273) or text “Comida” to 304-304.
Buscar sitios para comidas de verano, usa este enlace.
More summer meals resources:
*Some programs may be limited to families living in a school district or city boundary and also require income qualifications.