I just wrote an oped in the Cincinnati Enquirer about fighting hunger at home and abroad. One way we can do this is by using school lunches.
Food insecurity is on the rise in America, and worldwide nearly 1 billion people suffer from hunger. What is tragic about these statistics is that there is enough food for everyone on the planet. There just has to be the will and leadership to end hunger.
In my oped I discussed upcoming summer feeding programs for children in the United States. When school is over for the year, children no longer have access to the free and reduced price lunches that are in place for them. Summer feeding programs are needed to fill in the gap. Unfortunately, they are not always available. With hunger on the rise, it's ever so important that feeding programs be established for the upcoming summer.
I gave the example of Ohio and how Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman can work together on this issue. Judging from Feeding America's recent hunger findings, nearly 2 million people in the state are considered food insecure. Ohio has one of the higher food-insecure rates in the country at 17 percent. Safety nets like school feeding, particularly in the summer, are crucial for needy children.
Thea DeRosa, Director of Programs at the Cleveland Food Bank, says, "Children should not have to grow up in an environment where they are worried about how they are going to get their next meal, or witness their parents worry over feeding the family. With summer feeding, we can take a little bit of that worry away and assure that children in low income neighborhoods will have access to a well balanced meal in the summer."
Look at some of the needs of Ohio using Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap interactive feature. Take Highland County in Ohio, which according to the Feeding America map has 21 percent of its population as food insecure. Let's also look at the county's summer feeding to get an idea of what kind of meal program might be available for needy children in the coming months. The Children's Hunger Alliance of Ohio reports that in Highland county only 120 out of 4,287 eligible students took part in last summer's feeding programs.