NC Budget and Tax Center

Summer months mean going without healthy foods for many NC kids, study finds

Making sure that kids in low-income households have access to nutritious foods over the summer helps improve their overall health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found in a recently completed five-year study.

For hundreds of thousands of children in low-income households across the state, the summer months often mean fewer healthy food options because of the loss of access to school breakfast and lunch programs. These kids are coming from the estimated 16.7 percent of North Carolina households that face challenges putting food on the table.

The USDA conducted a five-year pilot study of how to reduce food insecurity through additional measures and improve health outcomes for these kids. They found that an extra $60 each month on families’ Electronic Benefit Transfer cards during the summer increased children’s fruit and vegetable consumption and improved nutrition outcomes.

The research also identified three main reasons why not all eligible children participate in summer nutrition programs that are available when school is not in session.  These reasons include:

  • Lack of Transportation
  • Limited operating hours
  • Lack of publicity

Year-round commitments are clearly needed to address poverty and spark community dialogue to help ensure all who need it have access to the necessary food to be healthy and well.

 Click here to find summer meal site near you.