This summer, we want to discuss a commonly overlooked issue: the seasonality of food insecurity.
What exactly does the seasonality of food insecurity mean? After all, food insecurity is a year-round issue. While most people are familiar with food insecurity and its effect on thousands of Iowa families, many are unfamiliar with the unique challenges each season provides, especially summer.
The summer months are full of family vacations, sleeping in, and trips to the pool for many families. However, it is essential to remember that summer is also a time when the needs of food-insecure families are at an all-time high, especially among families with children in school.
Summer is a time of need for many economically vulnerable families, specifically among school-aged children. Students who are out of school for the summer are perhaps most affected by seasonal food insecurity. In 2019, 29.6 million school-age children were a part of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), which provided free or reduced-cost lunches across the country. The number of children receiving the same support over the summer is less than 3 million, a fraction of those in the NSLP. This lack of summer feeding programs leaves almost 20 million children facing a more profound sense of food insecurity during the summer, and the problem does not stop there.
Recent research has shown an increase in childhood obesity over the summertime as many families rely on cheaper, less healthy food options since budgets are already tight. Not only are children receiving food less frequently, but the food they do receive is lower quality and less healthy. Caring Hands has always emphasized that we provide families with quality - not just quantity - in the meals we serve.
And did you know that we offer more than food? Our Uplift Program can provide limited help with clothing, household needs, utilities, and rent. We want to help alleviate the financial burden many families face this season.
If you are experiencing the seasonal challenges of summer, please reach out to Caring Hands for help. Our ministry has focused on creating a wide range of support to ensure we meet people in their unique situations. We won't judge you - we just want to help. And if God has blessed you with some abundance of time, talent, or treasure, please consider sharing it with your neighbors via Caring Hands Outreach Center.