Utah Food Bank offering free summer lunches for kids

Jun 8, 2023, 8:36 AM

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah — The Utah Food Bank said an estimated 142,000 kids are experiencing food insecurity across the state, and its summer food service program hopes to help bridge the meal gap some students experience when school lets out for the summer.

Utah Food Bank President and CEO Ginette Bott said they have been approved to distribute 176,000 lunches this year through the Summer Food Service Program.

“This is a great way for families to be sure that lunch is taken care of,” Bott said.

The meal is available to any child 18 years old or under. It does not matter if the child is home-schooled, private-schooled or attending public school, so long as they are in the state and in need of a meal.

“The food budget seems to be the first one that’s always, like, ‘Let’s pay the rent. Let’s keep the lights on.’ That food budget dwindles before it even has a chance to be spent,” said Bott.

Bott said the USDA is sponsoring the program, which happens Monday through Friday five times a week through Aug. 21.

All a family has to do is find the spot closest to them, which can be done by visiting the food bank’s website or texting “FOOD” to 304-304. If texting, you will be prompted to plug in your address, and the system will then come back with locations closest to you.

The child must eat the meal at the Utah Food Bank Summer Food Service Program location of their choosing.

“It’s easy to find. The hours are different. It’s available in neighborhoods across the state. We just need to be sure that families are taking advantage of this,” Bott said.

Right now, she said the Utah Food Bank has 58 sites they go to through this program. Add in school districts, and there are around 315 sites serving a kid-friendly lunch meal.

While each meal must meet some criteria, such as a protein, vegetable and fruit, they are putting together some different “recipes” so kids are not eating the same thing every day and get a good variety.

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Utah Food Bank offering free summer lunches for kids