For millions of children, the start of the summer season is a time for recreation, outdoor activities, visits to the beach and much more.
But for millions of them, especially Latino children from low-income families, the summer represents one of the times of greatest nutritional insufficiency because they lose access to the subsidized meals they receive at school.
Nearly 7 in 10 low-income families, a high percentage of which are Latino families, reported that it had become more difficult to pay for enough food for their children in the last year. And 9 out of ten attributed this increase to the increase in the price of food.
Although inflation has moderated, the challenges of feeding children are spreading to middle-income families, where almost 6 in 10 households face difficulties putting food on the table.
But an initiative of “No Kid Hungry”, a national campaign to end childhood hunger, seeks to help alleviate this situation by expanding its bilingual service to find meals by activating the WhatsApp application to connect more Latino and immigrant families in the US with free summer meals.
Now, families can visit NoKidHungry.org/WhatsApp or text ‘FOOD’ to 304-304 to find places nearby that serve free meals for their kids and teens.
The new bilingual activation of WhatsApp, one of the most popular applications among the Spanish-speaking community, displays the address, telephone number, and hours of the closest free food centers to where the application is used.
Latino stars such as actor and comedian Eugenio Derbez and chef Lorena García have joined the campaign, giving visibility to an important effort to alleviate hunger in our most vulnerable communities.
The good news is that as part of the Spending Act of 2023, Congress gave schools or organizations in rural communities more flexibility in how they can serve meals, allowing for options like delivery or takeout.
That can be a big help for families living in rural communities, where many children have a hard time getting to schools or community centers during the summer. And starting next year, a permanent nationwide program called Summer EBT will be launched, which gives families the benefit of buying food in the summer.
Of course it is immoral that with so much food spending there are still millions of people, especially children, who go to bed hungry. Although these programs are not the comprehensive response to inequality and inequity in access to well-being, they do provide vital help at times when it is most needed.