Report: Arizona Sees Increase in Summer Meals Participation

Nearly 400,000 still go without summer meals, Redoubled Efforts Needed

A national report was just released showing participation by children in the summer meals program in Arizona grew by nearly 30%!

This is the third highest ranking increase in the country, and was driven by the Arizona Department of Education and partner organizations like St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance intensifying its outreach efforts.

St. Mary’s is offering summer food service for more than 8,000 children at more than 100 locations!

It’s great news that we at St. Mary’s are celebrating, but we know our work must continue. Only 16% (or 73,000) of the more than 468,000 Arizona children who qualify for free or reduced price lunch at school are accessing meals over the summer.

This means you’d have to fill the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Stadium more than 8 times to account for all the kids not getting free, nutritious meals in the summer months who receive them during the school year.

These are kids who should be out playing baseball or another recreational activity and learning in summer programs, not worrying about where their next meal is coming from.

St. Mary’s Food Bank is working diligently to address this missing meal gap and is asking the Arizona Congressional Delegation to help ensure children don’t miss summer meals:

  • Pass Policy: help pass a Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill that strengthens child nutrition programs, making it more effective for community-based providers to operate the meals year-round and not implementing harmful policies found in HR5003 like changes to Community Eligibility Provision and block grant proposals.

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance has joined thousands of nationwide organizations opposed to any proposal to block grant school meals.

  • Promote: share on your social media channels the success Arizona has had in closing the summer meals gap and ensuring no child goes to bed hungry. Link to St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance’s list of summer meals sites open to all children and youth 18 and under (http://www.firstfoodbank.org/summermeals).
    1. Tweet: #AZ 3rd highest increase in kids getting #SummerMeals in US! Fight #ChildHunger w/ @StMarysFoodBank: www.firstfoodbank.org/summermeals! #AZonTheRise
    2. Facebook: #Arizona had the 3rd highest increase in kids getting #SummerMeals in the U.S.! Help fight #ChildHunger with <St. Mary’s Food Bank>! www.firstfoodbank.org/summermeals! #AZonTheRise
  • Pop-In: we invite Arizona’s Congressional Delegation to in-district visits of a summer feeding site or community conversation on Child Nutrition Reauthorization this summer. To schedule a visit in-district, contact Advocacy & Outreach Specialist David Martinez III at dxmartinez@firstfoodbank.org or 602-343-2554.

We’re on the right trajectory, but more must be done. Working together, we can ensure that no child in Arizona goes to bed hungry.

Summer Feeding program expands to bridge the gap

Each summer, donations to the food bank decrease while demand for services spikes upwards – with many children at home and no longer receiving the free or reduced-lunch meals offered at school. For many families, providing two additional meals at home is an overwhelming hardship.

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance seeks to bridge that gap for as many families as possible, providing meals each weekday and, at many locations on Saturdays as well.

Once again this summer St. Mary’s assumes sponsorship of the 2014 Summer Food Service Program for Children and will provide approximately 5,000 meals at a record 99 private and public sites around the Valley.

See list of locations