Summer is the time of year where children shouldn’t have to worry about anything other than enjoying their time away from school for summer break with friends and family. For many children hunger becomes a major issue as their schools close for the summer. They no longer have access to meals they are used to and are necessary to keep them healthy. Child hunger is a growing concern in our state and the nation. If you think about it; when schools are in session there are hundreds of children in our state who go in early for free breakfast, served at many of the schools in Colorado. They also participate in the free lunch programs, due to the financial status of their family.
When school is out for the summer where do those families turn for assistance and how do those children get the proper nutrition they need, to not only remain healthy, but to enable them to enjoy their summer?
In Colorado there are several organizations, to include governmental, who are addressing this situation. More than 500 sites have been designated in our communities to provide meals for children up to the age of 18, at no cost.
The Summer Food Service Program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This food service program was established to help insure families, with school age children, had a resource for providing healthy meals while school is out.
Hunger Free Colorado along with hundreds of other organizations around the state are providing meals at various locations such as; churches, schools and community recreation facilities. They help support the Colorado Department of Education, who administers the program. The sites chosen for providing the meals have to meet the federal nutrition guidelines and must provide some fun activities for the kids to enjoy.
There are no registration fees or income guidelines to participate. All you have to do is take the kids to your nearest participating facility and let them enjoy a meal and the activities. They get their daily requirement of nutrition and exercise.
Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger advocacy organization, made the following comments about child hunger and the program; “All children should have access to the fuel needed for healthy lives, so they can thrive in and out of school. It’s estimated one in five Colorado kids experience hunger, but programs like this one serve to ensure fewer kids go hungry. It fills a nutritional gap and helps families stretch their food budgets farther.”
In 2013, 1.34 million meals were served in facilities around the state which nearly doubled the figures from 2009.
The statewide multilingual Hunger Free Hotline number to find a location near you is toll free: (855) 855-4626. You can also click here or visit: www.KidsFoodFinder.org for an interactive map of the locations.
About Hunger Free Colorado
Hunger Free Colorado is the state’s leading anti-hunger organization leveraging the power of collaboration, systems change, policy change and social change to end hunger in Colorado. They focus on systemic and sustainable solutions through the lens of their four core values: community, innovation, partnership and nutrition. But, they do not—and cannot—achieve a hunger-free Colorado alone. Collaboration is key in breaking down barriers to access and fueling change for stronger, healthier communities.