Access to healthy food and good nutrition should be a right for all, but it is especially important for our children. A consistent diet of good food helps lay a strong foundation for future physical and mental health, improves success in school and, ultimately, economic productivity. Unfortunately, 27% of DC children live below the federal poverty line – that number drops slightly in Columbia Heights to 22% but is still above our national average and overall, DC ranks 7th in the nation for child food insecurity defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as households with limited or uncertain access to nutritionally adequate and safe food.
DC public schools help to stem deficiencies in access to healthy food by providing breakfast, lunch, and (at some schools) supper to more than 48,000 students. Throughout the school year, 70% of DC Public and Charter school students rely on their school meal program for the bulk of their nutrition and for too many, this may be their only regular, consistent food and this need doesn’t end when school lets out for holidays, emergency days off, and summer vacation. Hunger doesn’t take a vacation and during these periods too many kids go without access to food. The good news is that the DC Free Meal Program helps bridge the summer gap by working to make sure that ALL youth under the age of 19 continue to have access to free, healthy food – breakfast, lunch, and snacks – from June until August every weekday with a few sites providing meals on Saturday, too.
Summer meals and snacks will be served at sites across the city. Just by dropping into a participating site, any child or teen will be fed without needing to fill out any applications or provide proof of age and income. Most of our DC Parks and Recreation Centers and 46 DC Public schools have been designated as participants in this program along with a variety of community and faith-based programs and Public Charter Schools. The summer meal program is administered by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) using federal funds provided by the U.S. Department of agriculture. A list of sites can be found by texting “Food” to 877-877 or clicking on this link: https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks
SITES NEAR COLUMBIA HEIGHTS INCLUDE:
- Banneker Recreation Center
- Columbia Heights Recreation Center
- Mount Pleasant Library
- Park Morton Community Room
- Park Road Community Church
- Parkview Recreation Center
- Rita Bright FYC
- Columbia Heights Farmers Market
**PLEASE NOTE: USDA IS IN THE PROCESS OF ADDING ALL DC LOCATIONS TO ITS LIST. THE TEXT # AND LINK WILL BE UPDATE ON JUNE 25th. MEANWHILE, YOU CAN FIND A LIST OF DC PROVIDERS HERE: https://dpr.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dpr/service_content/attachments/Open%20Site%20List_2018.pdf
A special thanks to D.C Hunger Solutions for sourcing up to date statistics on the challenges and needs facing too many in our community. This organization works to create a hunger-free strategy to overcome barriers and build self-sustaining connections between city residents and nutritious food. You can learn more about this issue at dchunger.org.