More than half of kids 9 and up fall short on essential nutrients they need to grow strong – calcium, vitamin D and potassium. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans identified them as nutrients of public health concern because many Americans, including kids, are not consuming enough of these nutrients. When school lets out for summer, that risk may be even greater for over 22 million kids who are served by free or reduced-price meal programs during the school year.
For most kids, summertime means months filled with playing in the sun, swimming at the lake or baseball in the park – but for many, the start of summer marks the end of regular access to nutrient-rich foods including basic staples like milk that help their bodies and minds grow strong.
Although some programs like the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) help to deliver meals when school is out, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) do not reach children during the summer months.
“Milk is the top food source for calcium, vitamin D and potassium – three of the four nutrients kids are most likely missing,” said Dr. Tanya Altmann, best-selling author and nationally recognized pediatrician. “With 9 essential nutrients, including 8 grams of high-quality protein per serving, milk is an easy and affordable way to provide key nutrients to children who might otherwise go without them during the summer months.”
There is a nationwide need for nutrient-rich milk
Milk is one of the most requested, but least donated items at food banks. That’s because while Americans are generous with canned and dry goods, fresh milk is a lot harder to donate because it’s perishable. On average, food banks are only able to provide the equivalent of less than one gallon per person per year, which is far less than enough to meet the recommended three servings of milk or milk products per day for kids 9 and older.
That’s why Feeding America® – the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization – has partnered with America’s dairy farmers and milk companies to help provide more fresh, nutritious milk to children in need through The Great American Milk Drive.
Since it began, the program has delivered more than 1.5 million gallons – that’s more than 24 million servings – of fresh, nutritious milk to Feeding America’s nationwide network of 200 food banks. More than 46 million Americans – including 12 million children – rely on Feeding America each year and food banks cannot always meet the demand – especially in the summer months, when they are even busier.
“When people think about kids and summer, they think of carefree days spent having fun, but for those whose families struggle with hunger, even basic staples like milk may be missing,” said Andy Wilson, Chief Development Officer at Feeding America. “Our food banks do everything we can to provide nutritious foods to families in need. Thanks to The Great American Milk Drive, many of our food banks are now able to provide more highly-desired milk during the summer months.”