Food, Friends, Fun! Kids Eat Free When School is Out

Utahns Against Hunger LogoThe Summer Food Program begins this week in many parts of the state, and by next week there will be close to 200 locations open throughout Utah.

Summer Food provides free meals to children 18 and under when school is not in session. When school lets out, millions of children lose access to free and reduced priced school breakfast, lunch, and afterschool meals that are available during the regular school year. The Summer Food Program fills this gap by providing free meals to children who might have limited access to nutritious food in the summer.

Participating in the Summer Food Program is easy because there is no registration or application to fill out-kids just need to show up to receive a meal! And the food is familiar to kids who eat school meals because the majority of sites serve food provided by the local school district’s food services. Many of these sites serve breakfast and lunch. In addition, the Utah Food Bank and Salt Lake Community Action and Head Start sponsor sites that serve supper; and this year the Utah Food Bank is offering meals on Saturdays at select locations.

“Not only does the Summer Food Program provide nutritious meals to kids when school is out but kids get to see their friends and sites may also provide fun activities to help keep kids engaged in learning and moving during the summer,” said Marti Woolford Nutrition Initiatives Director at Utahns Against Hunger. “Research shows that children can lose up to two months of reading skills during the summer months. Utahns Against Hunger, for the second year, is sponsoring a modest literacy program at three Summer Food sites located in west Salt Lake City. Kids who attend the program at Jordan Park on Tuesdays, Sherwood Park on Wednesdays, or Northwest Central Park on Thursdays will receive a free book all summer long,” said Woolford.

About the Summer Food Program: The Food and Nutrition Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, administers the Summer Food Program at the Federal level. The Utah State Office of Education administers the program at the state level. Locally, the program is run by approved sponsors, including school districts, local government agencies, camps, or private nonprofit organizations. Sponsors provide free meals to a group of children at a central site, such as a school, park, or a community center. They receive payments from USDA, through their State agencies, for the meals they serve. Utahns Against Hunger, a local non-profit, provides outreach and advocacy for the program.

Utah families can find nearby summer meal sites here, by texting FOOD to 877877, or by calling the Utahns Against Hunger at 1-800-453-3663 (FOOD).