The Food Research and Action Center — a national anti-hunger advocacy group — released a report ranking all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on their participation in summer nutrition programs that help children in low-income homes stay fed during the summer. A release from Operation Food Search (OFS) shows Missouri ranked 42nd on the list, despite significant growth in summer nutrition programs in the state. OFS, the leader in these programs in Missouri, saw a 7.4 percent increase in the number of children served between July 2015 and July 2016.
“Our agency will continue to test and implement innovative concepts as well as seek unique partnerships to increase summer meal access in communities where children need it the most,” says OFS Executive Director Sunny Schaefer.
If Missouri had fed 40 percent — roughly 105,000 students — of children receiving free or reduced-price lunch during the 2015-2016 school year, the state would have received an additional $8 million in July alone, and the number of children impacted would have nearly tripled. However, Missouri only fed 35,208 children, and while there was an increase since July 2015, OFS plans to keep this number rising.
OFS also recently hired Director of Advocacy and Research Trina Ragain, who will interact with public officials to help take action against food access barriers. “Trina will play a key role in advancing our organization by actively engaging decision-makers [and] guiding efforts to end childhood hunger and family food insecurity,” says Schaefer.
“I’m excited to be leading the organization’s efforts to apply their substantial knowledge base and considerable expertise to address child hunger and family food insecurity from a policy perspective,” Ragain says. “No child should go to bed hungry, and no parent should have to choose between paying the electric bill or feeding their family.”
For more information on OFS, call 314-726-5335 or visit OperationFoodSearch.org. V