Summer break is broken for many children in rural America, who can become isolated once the school buses stop running in June.
Research shows kids can lose more than a third of what they learned during the school year during the dormant summer months.
Dino Pliego, California assistant state director for Save the Children, said his organization’s “Make Summer Fair” program sends mobile units with food and learning supplies to students’ homes in 30 communities nationwide.
“When children are unable to keep learning, creating and growing throughout the summer months, they not only fall behind their peers, but may never catch up,” Pliego pointed out. “Summer can mean no more access to books, regular meals, art supplies and the end of exercising and playing with friends until the next school year.”
Save the Children’s programs offer day camps and distribute food in Fresno, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Tulare counties. Families can sign up via their local school district.
Shane Garver, head of program design and impact for Save the Children, said 90% of the counties with the worst food insecurity are rural.
“Of those kids that regularly access a free breakfast and free lunch, sometimes that evening meal during the school year at their local school, only about 15% of those kids have access to a summer feeding program,” Garver noted. “So we do know that kids are going hungry over the summer months.”