For so many kids, summer means pools, sprinklers, and fun. But for a surprising number of Utah children–142,320 of them, in fact–summer means worrying about where their next meal will come from. When school is out, children lose access to school meal programs, and families must find a way to provide additional meals on already-tight budgets. The summer months are a long time to go for our most vulnerable, chronically hungry students who may have little to nothing to eat at home. Parents will skip meals, and children will go without all the healthy food they need to grow into healthy adults that will serve them well later in life. The USDA considers food insecurity to be a lack of food at any given time and multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake. It’s not just about being hungry – it’s about not being sure if you’ll have access to your next meal.
To address this, Utah Food Bank and partners throughout the state are offering free meals through the Summer Food Service Program. The program will extend Utah Food Bank’s Kids Cafe program by providing free meals to children 18 and younger through various sites such as parks and community centers for “Open Sites” and “Enrolled Programs.” Meals must be eaten in person, and no registration is required.
As a parent at one of our free summer meals sites explained, “Groceries are expensive. It’s harder to afford healthy things; we’re just buying less and trying to find the things on sale. If it’s not on sale, we don’t get it.”
Utah Food Bank is offering these meals at more than 50 locations this summer, with plans to serve more than 146,000 meals at sites in Salt Lake, Utah, Washington, Weber, Davis, Iron, San Juan, and Grand counties. Depending on the site, meals may be breakfast, lunch, or supper. Many sites are offering meals daily throughout the week! For a complete schedule and list of our Summer Food Service Program locations, visit UtahFoodBank.org/SummerMeals.
You can also text “FOOD” to 304-304 for additional resources offered by other partners. This free texting service will prompt you to enter your address or zip code to receive the location and service times of up to three nearby summer meal sites. Meals will be offered from May 30 through August 21, but exact dates vary by site. All sites will be closed for Juneteenth (6/19), Independence Day (7/4), and Pioneer Day (7/24).
There are many opportunities to join in the fight against hunger statewide. Your gift of food, time, or money is desperately needed to meet the high demand for food in Utah this summer. To give now, click here.