Summer Meals Being Served for Utah Kids

This summer there are 38 sponsors at over 200 sites across the state ready to provide nutritious lunches and, in many cases, breakfast and/or supper for children who would otherwise be on their own when school is out. Unfortunately, only 1 in 10 low-income children in Utah who needs summer meals is receiving them, according to a new national report released today.

The report, Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation, is an annual analysis of data by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). It measures the success of Summer Nutrition Programs at the national and state levels by comparing the number of children receiving summer meals to the number of low-income children receiving free or reduced-price school lunches during the regular school year – the school lunch data are a good proxy number for the extent of need in each state. By this measure, 10.7 low-income children in Utah ate summer meals for every 100 who ate school lunch during the regular school year. Nationally, the ratio was 16:100, an increase from the previous year.

“The summer food program offers not only healthy meals to all children, but also many sites provide fun activities for kids. There are no income requirements or registration. Any child under age 18 may come to eat. It’s troubling to see that participation fell, which means that too many children are missing out on the benefits of summer food. The Summer Nutrition Programs can make a huge difference for the tens of thousands of children in our state whose families struggle to afford enough food,” said Marti Woolford, Nutrition Initiatives Director with Utahns Against Hunger.

UAH has partnered with the Utah State Office of Education-Child Nutrition for the past 10 years in an effort to distribute flyers and posters throughout the state that highlight where and when local summer meals are being served.

The Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program in the summer months, should be filling the food gap for the thousands of low-income Utah children who rely on school breakfast and lunch during the school year to help keep hunger at bay. These programs provide free meals at participating summer sites at schools, parks, other public agencies, and nonprofits for children under 18. Not only do children benefit from the free meals, but they also benefit from the enrichment activities that keep them learning and engaged.  The best way to meet children’s needs over the summer is with healthy meals that are served in positive community environments while the children’s parents are working.

Utah families can find nearby summer meal sites here or by calling Utahns Against Hunger at 800-453-FOOD.