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Summer meal program gives kids free meals

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - School is out for the summer in most districts but some worry that means children will be going hungry.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - School is out for the summer in most districts, but some worry that means children will be going hungry.

More than 170,000 Utah students qualified for reduced price or free meals in the past school year so where do those children go now? Hopefully to take part in one of the federally funded free food programs available in 19 counties at more than 170 sites. The goal is to ensure no Utah child goes hungry this summer.

It's called the Summer Food Service Program and it will be available throughout Utah at elementary schools, boys and girls clubs, and even in city parks.

Starting Monday, breakfast and lunch will be served in eight different locations in Jordan School District at no cost for all kids, of all ages, from infants to age 18.

"I know that in our area there are a lot of families struggling due to loss of job and things like that, that are unforeseeable and you can only do what you can do and this program really helps out," said Stacey Christianson, a mother of two who uses the summer food program.

"They don't have to do anything to qualify. They don't have to show any I.D. they show up at a park and they can eat a meal," said Gina Cornia with Utahns Against Hunger.

Kids eat for free and parents pay no more than $2.50.

"Every day these families go and they have a picnic in the park. They go and play and it's a great program,” said Cornia.

Utahns against hunger reports requests for food stamps is up 40% from a year ago and there has been a 30% increase in demand at food pantries.

"One in eight Utah households struggles to afford enough food and one in seven children also are food insecure which basically means that they are not getting enough to eat,” said Cornia.

The goal of the summer food service program is to make sure that isn't the case this summer so they are feeding all children no questions asked.

"It takes in all kids. It doesn't discriminate against age…it takes in all students, anybody that needs to eat," said Christianson.

Families can visit http://schools.utah.gov/cnp/Files/2009SFSPSites.pdf or call 1-800-453-3663 for more information about serving times and locations.

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