Utah’s Summer Food Program Seeks To Reach Kids Where They Are
The federally funded summer food program aims to get meals to low-income kids when school is not in session. Typically, those meals are provided at school cafeterias, but in Utah it has proved more effective to bring those meals to more vacation-friendly places.
“Think like a kid," is the the advice from Marti Woolford, nutrition director at Utahns Against Hunger. Woolford says that schools are the last place kids want to go during their summer break. Better locations include community centers, libraries and parks.
“When you go to a summer food site at a park it is a really cool community environment," Woolford says. "There are a lot of parents there on blankets with their kids.”
Woolford also works with nonprofits like the Utah Food Bank to provide meals when schools can’t. Most schools only provide meals through June and only on weekdays until 1 p.m.
A new partnership with the Somali Association of Salt Lake City provides food for a group of kids on the weekends, including Sunday, which Woolford says is very rare.
"No one serves food on Sunday, not in Utah, so that’s a big deal," says Woolford.
Woolford hopes this trend continues, more nonprofits stepping up to reach kids in communities that might be overlooked. She also says it helps take the embarrassment out of it, which is the last thing a kid should be worried about on an empty stomach.