2022 SummerBoost camp in West Virginia
Across the U.S., the experiences shaping children’s lives are starkly different.
Many children in rural communities experience higher rates of poverty and food insecurity. While poverty affects millions in the U.S., its strongest grip is most often in rural communities. Children growing up in these places face higher infant mortality rates, lack essential educational resources and proper access to health care, miss out on nutritious meals, experience higher teen-pregnancy rates and are caught in the crippling opioid crisis.
One in seven children in America lack consistent access to enough food for a healthy, active life. The pandemic exacerbated child hunger, with food insecurity rates tripling for households with children. Child hunger is worse in rural America – 90% of the counties with the highest percentage of children at risk for food insecurity are rural.
Hungry children are more likely to have lower math scores, repeat a grade, come to school late, or miss school entirely.
Our work in the U.S. began in 1932 by providing hot lunches to schoolchildren in Harlan County, Kentucky during the Great Depression. The impact of this program was immediate. Undernourished children were better fed, grades rose and school attendance increased.
In order to give children living in rural poverty in America today a chance to succeed, we have to give them a fair chance to learn and learn early. Our proven educational programs help children start school ready to learn, reach their 3rd grade reading and literacy benchmarks, and maintain their academic gains over the summer.
Here are summaries of our programs, made possible through support from donors like you:
Head Start: Federally-funded Head Start and Early Head Start programs reach children in poverty from birth to age 5. Since 2011, we have led Head Start programs that had struggled to achieve quality or continuity. We hire and train the most qualified staff, improve facilities, provide research-based curriculums and classroom materials, and use home-based Early Head Start to reach pregnant women, infants and toddlers. We lead Head Start programs in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.
Early Steps to School Success:We support language, literacy, and social emotional development in children under age 5 through home visits and equip parents with the knowledge to support their children’s development.
In-school literacy and math support: Our school-age programs focus on measurable academic outcomes for at-risk children and are designed to reduce the achievement gap between students most impacted by inequality and their more affluent peers. Our literacy, math, and Healthy Choices nutrition and fitness components provide the training, tools and support schools need to accelerate growth for struggling students, kindergarten through sixth grade. The centerpiece is the Literacy Block - an hour of activities supporting increased reading achievement, including guided independent reading practice, fluency-building support and listening to books read aloud. Mathematics activities provide a foundation for future success in the math field. Our school-age programs have achieved greater literacy gains than their national peers during the COVID-19 pandemic based on an external evaluation that analysed 3.3 million children between fall 2019 and spring 2021.
KinderBoost: This a two-week summer program teaches children academic, social emotional and behavioral skills that are critical to their success during their first year at school. We familiarize children and their families with teachers and staff at the school, the school building and daily school routines to lessen anxiety on the first day. In the summer of 2022, we provided KinderBoost at 117 sites in seven states.
Taste of Kindergarten: At 13 sites in four states, we reached children and families not able to participate in KinderBoost. This half-day event provides incoming Kindergarten children and their families with support for a successful transition.
SummerBoost: Each year, millions of children are left without opportunities for summer learning and are at risk of the "summer slide." That's when kids lose some of the achievement gains they've made during the previous school year. SummerBoost gives girls and boys opportunities to improve their math and reading skills in a fun, summer camp format. In the summer of 2022, we ran camps at 80 locations in rural America.
Addressing Rural Child Hunger
As the leading national organization dedicated to serving children in the rural U.S., Save the Children understands the challenge that rural hunger presents. We are leveraging our network, resources, advocacy and expertise to ensure children have the food they need to succeed. With our school and community partners, we work to identify new solutions and develop scalable models to combat rural child hunger.
In 2021, we directly reached more than 837,000 children, supported the distribution of 22 million meals and provided $2.4 million in school and community feeding grants. Projects distribute healthy food through drive-through meal distributions at schools and community-based organizations; neighborhood pop-up pantries; school food pantries for children attending summer school; and backpack meal programs to give children access to nourishing food on weekends.
This summer, in our effort to help close the summer hunger gap when children are out of school, we provided approximately $2.3 million to support the distribution of meals to children in partnership with schools, food banks, and other local organizations in 16 states. We supported the start-up of several mobile learning and feeding units that bring learning resources, programs, and nutritious meals to the hardest-to-reach families.
Arkansas KinderBoost graduates and our bookmobile