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A federally funded food program is failing to reach millions of low-income children who rely on free school meals during the academic year but drop away during the summer, according to a report released last week by the Food Research and Action Center.

Only 15.5 percent of children who received free or reduced-price meals at school participated in the summer-food program in 1992, according to FRAC's report, "New Opportunities: A Status Report on the Summer Food Service Program for Children.''

While 12.5 million low-income children participated in the school-lunch program in 1992, only 1.9 million received lunch through the summer program, the report says.

"Children from families with low incomes depend very heavily on school lunch for the food they need to learn and grow,'' said Robert J. Fersh, the executive director of FRAC. "But when school closes for the summer, the cafeteria closes, too. Meanwhile, the development of children does not take a vacation.''

The school-lunch program provides participating low-income children with one-third to one-half of their daily nutritional intake, according to the Agriculture Department.

But the department has not adequately promoted the program, the report contends, while Congress has made participation in the program "unnecessarily difficult.''

The report urges states to redouble their efforts to advertise the availability of the summer-food program and to expand the number of meal sites.
"The summertime nutrition gap lies at the local, state and federal levels,'' their report asserts.


A federal appeals court in Washington this month upheld a lower court's dismissal of a suit that sought to force the federal government to immediately stop funding colleges that award race-exclusive scholarships.

The three-judge panel said it would be premature to order the Education Department to issue rules barring such scholarships because similar suits against individual institutions are pending and because the agency is rethinking its policy on the matter.

That appeal was filed by the Washington Legal Foundation on behalf of seven students. The foundation also represents a University of Maryland student in a suit against that institution.

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