10/22/2010 12:12 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Dinner For The District's Kids

In the nation's capitol, the need for food appears to be greater than ever.  According to The Washington Post, many Washington DC students will now be receiving three meals per day at school, thanks to an expanded effort to tackle childhood hunger in the Washington DC's public school system. A sure sign of tough economic times, 99 of DC's 123 schools will now offer dinner, in addition to the free and reduced price breakfast and lunch programs.

The Post reports that "until this year, most after-school fare was a snack of juice and a muffin or bagel. But for children who spend up to 10 1/2 hours at school -- from early care at 8 a.m. to the end of after-care at 6:30 -- it wasn't enough."

In the District, where the poverty rate for black children is 43 percent, a poll conducted for the Food Research Action Center found that, "at least once between 2008 and 2009, 40 percent of D.C. households with children did not have enough money to buy food." For many of these children, the meals they receive at school are the only food they get on any given day.

The Post describes the program having a three-pronged approach: "hedging against childhood hunger, reducing alarming rates of obesity and drawing more students to after-school program, where extra academic help is available." Further, "the expansion comes as part of a broader effort, mandated by recent D.C. Council legislation, to upgrade the quality and nutritional value of school food with fresh, locally grown ingredients."

Stories like this are unfolding all over America. How can you help? Take the "Dine In" Challenge and agree to feed hungry families this Thanksgiving. Much like the DC program, our approach goes much deeper than simply providing meals. Many of our Box of Love recipients will connect with long-term job training and after-school programs that will yield lasting transformation. Sponsor meals for families today!

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