Summer’s not over yet – which means Vermont kids can continue to eat free summer meals across the state. All Vermont children 18 and under can just show up and enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal with friends, no sign-up required. Meals are served in places where kids already spend time in the summer, including public parks and pools, libraries, and schools. Meals are often paired with either enrichment or physical activities to keep kids moving and learning.
This summer, many sites are also allowing families to pick up meals to bring home with them. From Bennington and Brattleboro to the Northeast Kingdom and Champlain Islands, towns all around the state are operating summer meal sites and making sure kids in their communities are fed.
Summer months can be a difficult time for families once school lets out and children lose access to the nutritious meals they were getting at school. Faced with rising costs of fuel, food, and housing, more families than ever could use assistance stretching their food budget while school is out. The Summer Food Service Program is a universal meal program where every child 18 and under can receive free meals at open sites regardless of where they live, no questions asked. Vermont summer meal programs served 30,000 meals to kids per day last summer.
Summer meals play a critical role in the health and well-being of Vermont’s youth. Without proper nutrition, students are at risk of losing two months of both reading and math skills over summer break. The nutrition, structure, stability, and socialization of summer meal programs can help to close this achievement gap and ensure that children return to school healthy and ready to learn.
“Summer meals are available statewide, in no small part due to the tireless work of school nutrition professionals and other community members who have been working nonstop since the beginning of the pandemic to feed children in their communities. Despite seemingly insurmountable challenges like supply chain issues, the rising cost of food, and staffing shortages, school nutrition professionals have worked hard to make sure Vermont’s children remain fed throughout the year,” said Keely Agan, Early Childhood Nutrition Manager at Hunger Free Vermont.
Hunger Free Vermont is proud to be promoting and supporting summer meal programs around the state to ensure that as many people know about the summer meals sites that are currently serving kids around the state. Open summer meal sites are available to anyone 18 years old and under, no need to register or call ahead. All children, regardless of household income, are encouraged to attend. Site information can be found by visiting https://www.hungerfreevt.org/summer-meals-site-lists/ or by calling 2-1-1. Texting “FOOD” to 304-304 will also provide information on nearby meal sites.
About Hunger Free Vermont: Hunger Free Vermont is a statewide nonprofit organization that works with state agencies and community groups to develop sustainable hunger solutions. hungerfreevt.org.