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Food is Medicine

Summer comes with memories of cookouts, fresh veggies from the garden and farmer’s market excursions. For many people, however, these memories are non-existent. More than 20 million U.S. children depend on free or reduced-price lunches during the school year and shockingly about 85% of these kids don’t received this nutritional assistance during the summer. These kids are at a higher risk of both hunger AND obesity during the summer because of a lack of nutritious food.  Caleb eating an apple

Nutrition plays a major part in a child’s overall health and every kid deserves to have access to nutritious meals. We have the resources and the major road blocks to getting this 85% of kids access to these meals lies in communication and encouragement for participation. This is where all of us can play a part. Summer programs meal programs are popping up all over all of our states; hospitals, churches, libraries, parks, etc. Check out these following links to find ones that our closest to you:

  1. No Kid Hungry
  2. 2016 Summer Food Service Program

While reading through some of the programs I was drawn to a story about a group from the Medical University of South Carolina. The staff at this busy hospital noticed that many of their 200,000 patients that they served throughout the year were getting by on meager meals when they came to the hospital. Patients in the waiting rooms were getting by on a bag of chips and a soda. 

One of the hospital dietitians approached the hospital leadership about launching a free summer meals program and, with the help of No Hid Hungry organization the hospital now has a program on their campus that provides these kids reliable, nutritious meals every day.

Reading the statistics about the amount of hungry kids in our country was saddening, but the stories about the hard work that many people are already doing to close this gap all over our country was encouraging. The ground that we have to cover is definitely great, but our little, big fighters are definitely inspiring and worth the effort. I’ve been challenged by looking into this to become involved in our local efforts, so I hope you all will be too.  lease share your stories on how your communities are moving to help kids gain access to nutritious meals this summer. 

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Meredith Merkley

More about Meredith Merkley

Meredith Merkley was born in the mountains of Colorado, but moved to Ohio, New Mexico and then Arizona. She has a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Northern Arizona University. Afterwards, she packed her bags again and moved to Ohio where she graduated as a D.O. from the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is currently completing her second year of pediatric residency.

1 Comment

    1. See Albuquerque’s Free lunch summer program and St. Martins Albuquerque Blue Box program.

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