One in seven children under age 18 in Nebraska is food insecure, meaning they can’t count on their next meal, according to “Ending Childhood Hunger in Nebraska:  Strategies for Improving and Maximizing Child Nutrition Programs” a report released today by the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest.


 One in seven children under age 18 in Nebraska is food insecure, meaning they can’t count on their next meal, according to “Ending Childhood Hunger in Nebraska:  Strategies for Improving and Maximizing Child Nutrition Programs” a report released today by the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest.


“Children and families are suffering in the economic downturn. Statistics released from the U.S. Census Bureau today show that 13.4% of children in Nebraska live in poverty. These numbers illustrate only the beginning of the impact of the recession on families. Now is the time to make targeted improvements in Child Nutrition programs to protect the health and well-being of our children” states Rebecca Gould, Executive Director of the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest.  “This report focuses on how we can strengthen these programs and address childhood hunger in light of the growing need.”


Schools and nonprofit organizations are often on the front lines of the fight to reduce childhood hunger. For example, Howard School in Grand Island Nebraska, extended its summer food program in order to meet children’s needs. “The need for good nutrition for growing bodies and brains doesn’t stop when school is out of session. Fundamentally, these programs are good for kids so we need to do our best to keep providing them” states Kris Spellman, Director of Nutrition Services for Grand Island Public Schools.  


Despite efforts by schools and nonprofits, federal child nutrition programs are underutilized in our state. Nebraska serves only about a third (36.9%) of low-income children through the School Breakfast Program and less than one in ten (9.3%) low-income children through the Summer Food Service Program leading Nebraska to rank 45th and 43rd respectively in national measures of program utilization.

More can be done to increase the impact of child nutrition programs in Nebraska. Federal Reauthorization of child nutrition programs including School Breakfast, School Lunch, Summer Food Service Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program will occur in the coming months. Targeted improvements, such as providing start up grants for school breakfast programs, increasing eligibility for free School Breakfast and Lunch, eliminating of the “reduced price” meal category, and increasing eligibility for the Child and Adult Care Food Program will help schools and nonprofit organizations serve more children and improve the overall health and well being of our children.