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Free Meals Help Fill Nutrition Gap during Summer

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As school lets out, many children lose access to free or reduced-price school meals. Efforts to provide meals to those kids begin next week.

At Sunnyside Park, kids are already out enjoying the warm weather, playing games and eating popsicles.

Starting Tuesday, volunteers will start serving free lunches here for kids 18 and under. It’s part of the Summer Food Program, a federal initiative which helps provide free meals for kids during the summer. It’s to replace a free or reduced-price lunch a child would have received at school but might not get during the summer, says Ginette Bott with the Chief Development Officer with the Utah Food Bank.

“Unfortunately, a lot of these children have parents who are away during the day at work, and these kids have to be able to get to a location,” Bott says.

Many of those locations are at schools, public libraries, parks and community centers.

Marti Woolford with Utahns Against Hunger says while the Summer Food Program is aimed at helping low-income families, no child will be turned away from receiving a free meal.

“It can be really fun,” Woolford says. “If it’s at a park, kids play, they get to see friends, they get to have lunch. You see a lot of families with blankets sitting together having great quality time.”

More information on summer lunches in your child’s school district can be found here.

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