22 Million U.S. Kids At Risk of Summer Hunger

Jason Grilli kicks off Feeding America's Say No to Summer Hunger events by flipping grilled cheese sandwiches for kids facing hunger in Atlanta.
Jason Grilli kicks off Feeding America’s Say No to Summer Hunger events by flipping grilled cheese sandwiches for kids facing hunger in Atlanta.

For most kids, summer is a time of fun and excitement, but for 22 million kids in communities across the U.S., it also may mean the end of access to the free or reduced price meals that nourish them during the school year.

That means for every five kids participating in the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs, four will lose access to those meals as public schools close for the summer.

Feeding America, a hunger-relief organization, along with the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the Atlanta Braves, hosted a special volunteer event Wednesday with Jason Grilli, a member of Feeding America’s Entertainment Council and pitcher for the Braves.

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“I’m honored to be kicking off Feeding America’s Say No to Summer Hunger events to help raise awareness of child hunger,” Grilli said. “If flipping grilled cheese sandwiches for an afternoon helps catch some attention for the issue, then I’m all for it.”

The event was held at one of the Atlanta Community Food Bank’s partner agencies, The Study Hall, which is a non-profit organization that provides after-school and summer camp programming for low-income elementary school children in the greater Peoplestown community in Atlanta.

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After taking a tour of the The Study Hall, Grilli fired up the grills and served his favorite lunch item—grilled cheese sandwiches—to more than 60 kids, ages 5 through 11.

The Study Hall is located in Fulton County where according to recent Feeding America Map the Meal Gap data, more than 54,000 children are food insecure, which means they may not know where they’ll find their next meal. The state of Georgia has the fifth highest food-insecurity rate in the country.

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“Every summer we see a spike in need, as more families come more often to the food pantries our network serves,” said Matt Knott, president of Feeding America. “Last year, more than 130 Feeding America food banks helped distribute nearly 8 million meals to children at 4,200 sites like The Study Hall, but this still isn’t enough. We cannot let our children go without nutrition and support when school is out.”

The food components to make the event’s grilled cheese sandwiches were provided by partners of the Atlanta Braves, Kroger and Nature’s Own.

To learn how you can get involved in helping Say No to Summer Hunger, visit Feeding America.

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Rakesh Raman