There may be more Oregon parks and schoolyards serving free lunches than ever this summer but the summer meal program is still struggling to keep up with demand.
Over the last six years, the summer lunch program grew from serving 1.6 million lunches to more than 2 million. But according to state data, the expansion barely kept up with the pace of hunger among Oregon’s children.
The reach of the summer lunch programs slightly improved, serving about 21 to 23 percent of kids considered at risk of hunger.
Government and non-profit providers have opened 250 more meal sites since 2009. Over that same time period, poverty has grown too. There were 36,000 more Oregon students qualifying for subsidized lunches in 2014 than there were in 2009.
Summer meal programs typically rely on federal money and grants from organizations like Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon.