Families Health

Free summer meals for school-age children

Hispanic children have twice the malnutrition burden as non-Hispanic whites and were found to have higher rates of stunting, or delayed growth–a common warning sign of chronic malnutrition

With school out for the summer, the Community Renewal Team (CRT) will once again be offering its free Summer Food Service Program for school-aged children between 5 and 18 in Hartford and neighboring towns.

The program, which is done in conjunction with the USDA and Connecticut State Department of Education, provides free breakfast and lunch to children who would be missing out on school-time meals.

This summer, CRT expects to serve more than 750 children per day a free lunch. In total, CRT expects to provide 44,000 meals during the summer months.

Providing meals during the summer months is a way to ensure children don’t go hungry.

According to a study by the World Hunger Organization, Hispanic children have twice the malnutrition burden as non-Hispanic whites and were found to have higher rates of stunting, or delayed growth–a common warning sign of chronic malnutrition.

The data also showed Hispanic girls were particularly at-risk for malnutrition issues, revealing gender could be linked to certain micronutrient deficiencies. Among girls of all ethnicities, 7.2 percent had a vitamin D deficiency and 8.9 percent had an iron deficiency. This is compared to 4.2 percent of boys with a vitamin D deficiency and 5.3 percent with an iron deficiency.

Many summer meal programs begin as soon as the school year ends and run through mid- to late-August.

“When school is out for the summer, children really need access to healthy, tasty breakfasts and lunches to supplement their daily nutritional needs,” said Gariann Chiarella, director of nutrition for CRT. “We are proud to help coordinate this vital program that helps to prevent childhood hunger here in the Greater Hartford area. CRT has been part of this annual program for more than 20 years now.”

During the 2018-2019 school year, 78 percent of students in the Hartford School District were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. To qualify for a reduced-price lunch, a family must earn less than the poverty threshold determined by the federal government. For example, a family of four with a gross annual income of $32,630 or less, qualifies for free meals.

Please refer to the “Free Summer Food” page on CRT’s website (www.crtct.org) for more information regarding where summer meals for children will be served free of charge.

People interested in receiving more information about participation in the free Summer Food Service Program for children should contact:
Community Renewal Team
555 Windsor Street, Hartford, CT 06120
Phone: 860-560-5634

Sources: Huffington Post, CRT, World Hunger Organization

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