WASHINGTON — The National League of Cities (NLC), in partnership with the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), awarded grants to 10 cities in Kansas, Alabama and California to create or expand programs providing children with afterschool and summer meals, through their Cities Combating Hunger through Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs (CHAMPS) initiative. This recent effort targets cities in states with low participation in the meal programs, and encourages additional cities in these states to apply for CHAMPS funding. With support from the Walmart Foundation, NLC has already helped 41 cities across the country serve over 10 million meals to 100,000 children over the last five years.
“It is crucial for cities to ensure that children have access to healthy meals, not just in school but during the summer and the afterschool hours,” said National League of Cities (NLC) CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony. “City leaders are well-positioned to support these federal meal programs, which can prevent summer learning loss and provide a safe space for children to gather when school ends.”
The 10 cities receiving CHAMPS grants in 2016 are: Alabaster, Alabama; Huntsville, Alabama, Mobile; Alabama; Tuskegee, Alabama; Glendale, California; Riverside, California; Stockton, California; Kansas City, Kansas; Lawrence, Kansas; and Wichita, Kansas.
“Research has shown that school-age children perform better when they are eating well, so it is absolutely critical that we take steps to make sure our kids have regular access to healthy foods. It’s an important part of building and sustaining a healthy community,” said Mayor Mark Holland of Kansas City, Kansas. “I’m especially excited that the Kansas City, Kansas Schools and Healthy Communities Wyandotte came together to identify a creative approach to address this need. A big thank you to both for taking on this project.”
According to a new FRAC report, participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs plateaued last summer across the country, despite three prior years of significant growth.
In Alabama and California, though more children are receiving free and reduced lunch in school, many are not being reached with afterschool and summer nutrition. In Kansas, a state with the lowest summer meal participation rates in the nation, fewer than 1 in 10 low-income children participate in Summer Nutrition Programs.
NLC and FRAC are also funding state municipal leagues and state-based anti-hunger organizations in each of the three states to assist with outreach and provide technical assistance to cities over the course of the 16-month project.
For more information, about after school and summer meals program, visit www.nlc.org/CHAMPS.
About the National League of Cities
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans. www.nlc.org