Summer Meals for Kids (report, 2014)

Help Them Eat at Home, which was released in April 2014, was a report I wrote for the San Diego Hunger Coalition where I was the public policy and advocacy director. It explores the limitations of the federal program that provides meals over the summer in lieu of the free or reduced-price meals at school during the school year. The program has had low participation and this report takes the different explanations people have offered for why this is the case and shows how they’re symptomatic of deeper issues. Fortunately, the USDA has worked on creating another approach to helping struggling families get food that can cover for the limitations of the traditional summer meals program (the elimination of which this report is sometimes misread as advocating for). The report has become part of the discussion of how to improve the program in both the USDA and Congress, but it has its critics of its own (who have not posted anything online to link to). With hindsight, what worked about this report was that it took dry data and disparate personal observations and turned them into a coherent story.

During COVID, the USDA’s new approach briefly became the basis of P-EBT and would’ve become permanent if Build Back Better had become law.