For so many kids, summer means pools, sprinklers and fun. But for a surprising number of Utah children–142,320 of them to be exact–summer means worrying about where their next meal will come from. When school is out, so are the school meals that so many families rely on during the school year. To combat this, Utah Food Bank and many providers across the state off free meals through the Summer Food Service Program, which is sponsored by the USDA. These meals are available to children 18 years of age and under through a variety of sites such as parks and community centers across the state. Utah Food Bank is offering these meals at 50 sites this summer, with plans to serve more than 100,000 meals at sites located in Carbon, Davis, Iron, San Juan, Salt Lake, Utah and Washington Counties. In fact, we distributed over 47,000 meals in June alone, so we are well on our way to exceeding our 100,000 meal goal!
According to Jessie, a parent to two children who benefit from summer meals, “I worry about a lot of things. I worry about how I’m going to pay rent and how I’m going to put food on the table.” During the summer, when her kids don’t have access to school meals, Jessie also worries about filling in that meal gap for her children. Her son Deron admits “If we didn’t have the food from the community center, we wouldn’t eat as much in the summer. It helps us a lot.”
If you or anyone you know needs help filling the summer meal gap, there are several resources available:
- View Utah Food Bank’s summer meal sites
- View the USDA list of summer meal sites throughout the state
- Text “FOOD” to 877-877
- Call the toll-free United Way 2-1-1 information and referral services hotline