05/27/2015, By Valley of the Sun United Way
What did you eat on your summer vacation? For too many kids, the answer is “Not enough.” Summer is supposed to be fun, but it’s not so fun for children who depend on free or reduced meals during the school year because they may not get the nutrition they need.
That’s where our Summer Food Service Program comes in. The program’s designed to ensure kids don't go hungry while they're out of school. Unfortunately, Arizona children face a unique set of barriers when it comes to hunger.
Lack of Transportation
- In 2014, 64 percent of households reported having to choose between buying food and paying for transportation at least once in the past year.* That’s why we’ve partnered with other organizations to bring meals to kids at certain apartment complexes for the first time.
“The need is just as great in the summer as it is during the school year,” said Diane Gruman, Director of Food Services in the Cartwright School District.
Summer Heat and Lack of Activities
- High temperatures can prevent children from walking to summer meal sites. Indoor food sites at schools, churches and community centers make a difference.
- Sites may offer games and activities encouraging kids to return for healthy meals each day.
Lack of Overall Nutrition
- According to Gruman, many parents in communities that serve Summer Meals may not understand the value of nutritional food.
- As a consequence, students get stuck in a cycle of poor performance; once school begins children could be more prone to illness and other health issues.
“Sure, a bag of Hot Cheetos taste really good and are very inexpensive, but they’re not really dinner.”
Food Program meals per USDA guidelines must contain:
- 100 percent whole grains
- Low-fat or nonfat milk
- Fruits and vegetables
- Lean protein
We Know It Works
Last year, nearly 2 million meals were served at Summer Meals sites throughout Arizona. Help serve even more children in our community, by spreading the word about this free program on Facebook and Twitter.
Where We’ll Be
Finding a site near you is now easier than ever. Just text "FOOD" for English or "COMIDA" for Spanish to 877 877 today, or click below.
* Source: Feeding America Hunger in America 2014, State Report for Arizona