Each year, the beginning of summer marks the beginning of fun, friends and a welcomed break for school children across the state. But for many Arizona students, this time of year also marks the end of daily, nutritious, and reliable meals.
Nearly half a million students in the state rely on free or reduced school lunches during the school year, according to the most recent Food Research & Action Center report. For many students, these guaranteed meals may be the only source of nutritious food they can count on each day. The school cafeteria doors may be closed for the summer, but hunger doesn’t go on vacation.
Lack of access to nutritious meals can have negative effects on a child’s health, development and success in learning year-round. That’s why over 400 Summer Food Service Program sites in the state serve free meals to kids 18 and younger all summer long, helping to close this critical food insecurity gap. This means thousands of students can count on at least one nutritious meal every single day in June and July. Nearly every site offers breakfast and lunch, and some offer dinner and snacks. Many of the sites also provide activities for children, offering a safe space for children to beat the heat and stay active.
Visit https://www.eatwellbewell.org/summerfood to find a free summer meal program in your area. If there is not a program near you, contact the Arizona Department of Education to start one. For more food resources, contact the Association of Arizona Food Banks.
Check out the infographic below to learn more about summer meal programs, and how they help ensure the success and wellbeing of Arizona students:
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