Spring is almost in full swing and summer is just around the corner. Millions of children in America can’t wait for summer vacation, but for millions of poor children who rely on school meals it’s a mixed blessing.
I qualify for free and reduced lunch. I can get a free breakfast, I can get like a muffin, juice, anything like that, in the morning, and then lunch, I don’t have to pay, so I can get whatever I wanted for lunch. So I’ve always been able to eat at school for lunch and breakfast.
Linda Ransom is a Columbus, Ohio high school senior and the winner of aChildren’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds® scholarship whose family struggles to make ends meet. When Linda was seven her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and the medical crisis led to a family financial crisis. Linda’s mother lost her job, and with a mountain of medical bills is still trying to catch up ten years later. They’ve been homeless for stretches of time. Food has often been beyond their means. Linda says, “If we didn’t have any food at home, I knew I could get some at school, and sometimes I could take a couple things from the breakfast line and I could just save it for later, so when I got home, if I was hungry, I could eat it.”
Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation and poor children like Linda who rely on free and reduced price breakfast and lunch during the school year to keep the wolves of hunger at bay face a long summer of food deprivation. “It was hard without school during the summer, but being able to qualify for something like food stamps or having a food pantry near us, that helped a lot,” Linda says, but at the end of the month, “it was kind of like a hit-or-miss kind of situation.”
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