Check Out the Walmart Foundation's Plan to Fight Summer Hunger Among Poor Kids

In many neighborhoods, summertime presents a dire challenge to families with limited resources: Without school lunches to depend on, many kids end up eating junk food or even going hungry.

According to a report released last month by the Food Resource and Access Center (FRAC), last year, only one in seven children who needed summer meals received them, and the demand for such meals is only increasing.

The Walmart Foundation is one of a number of funders with an eye on this problem, and it has the deep pockets to do something about it. Last week, the Walmart Foundation announced a gift of $15 million to help launch a summer-long healthy eating and nutrition education program. The funds will be divvied up amongst six national nonprofit organizations, many of which the Walmart Foundation has granted to in the past. But this is the first time the foundation is bringing this national team together to cooperate on solving one problem, and it’s an interesting move.

“We know that summer can be a challenging time for millions of children who rely on the nutrition from free or reduced cost school meals,” said Julie Gehrki, senior director of the Walmart Foundation. “Through our relationships with dedicated nonprofit organizations, this summer, we will further our commitment to help people gain access to healthy foods and develop nutritious eating habits. We are proud to support this work which will reach over a million children and families in more than 1,500 communities." 

The YMCA is one of the key players in the team of organizations the Walmart Foundation is relying on to run this project. The Food Resource and Access Center (FRAC) is another. It received $4 million from the Walmart Foundation in 2013 to help expand and promote its own meals program. Considering the Walmart Foundation was splitting its nutrition giving up amongst many different organizations that do the same thing, it must’ve seemed like good foundational sense to coordinate the effort, bringing these nonprofits together to share strategy and lessons learned.

We recently wrote that the Walmart Foundation is getting more interesting, engaging in bigger, more strategic grantmaking. This initiative is more evidence of that point.