hunger

Free Meals Help Fill Nutrition Gap during Summer

Jun 3, 2016
Stock photo

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.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

This time of year, many Utahns are giving away food to help those in need. But that need is there all year round. One in seven households in Utah struggled with hunger last year. Food insecurity persists in the Beehive State in spite of its robust economy and charitable citizens.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

School is out for many children in Utah, and that means some of them are not getting the free meals they got during the school year. To fill that need, summer meals are now being served at over 200 sites across the state, but organizers say the program doesn’t reach as many families as they would like.

Judy Fahys

The Salt Lake City Mayor’s office has for 13 years hosted a Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in partnership with the Utah Food Bank. Today more than 100 volunteers lent their time and energy to the cause. 

Ginette Bott with the Utah Food Bank addressed volunteers early Monday morning about the value of their service. Bott says last year volunteers donated 103,000 hours of time to the organization.

Andrea Smardon

A food pantry in Murray has closed its doors because of federal sequestration budget cuts.  Nonprofit organizations in Utah are trying to figure out how to continue serving hungry, elderly, and low-income people as their budgets are reduced.  KUER looks at how sequestration will affect some of the most vulnerable parts of the state's population.

Low-income advocates are asking Governor Gary Herbert to remember Utahns who can’t afford basic healthcare this holiday season.  On Friday, staff from Crossroads Urban Center and some uninsured Utahns presented results from a survey showing the connection between hunger and high healthcare costs. 

Crossroads Urban Center surveyed more than 300 of the people they helped with food this year. Marjorie Hurder is a Social Justice Advocate at the Center, and she conducted many of the interviews.

Summer vacation is here, and that means many low-income Utah children may be missing meals that were provided for free or reduced price in school. A national report from the Food Research and Action Center shows that Utah is doing slightly better than the national average at feeding these children through the summer, but that many are still falling through the cracks.