Children’s Feeding Programs

One in four children in Arizona lives in poverty and is at risk of going to bed hungry tonight. Arizona ranks 47th out of 50 states in the number of children who may not know where their next meal is coming from. Our vision is to see that no child goes to bed hungry, so they can live healthy and productive lives. In response to these needs, St. Mary’s Food Bank operates programs that fight child hunger, including Kids Cafe® and the Backpack Program.

Kids Cafe®

This meal-service program provides Arizona children with what is often their last meal of the day. We currently collaborate with schools, community centers, health clinics, and other neighborhood groups to provide free, healthy meals daily in after-school programs as well as during the summer. In addition to the nutritious meals, these programs provide a safe environment for children through enrichment activities such as recreation or tutoring. Kids Cafe® provides 6,000 meals daily, including 1,000 hot meals, at more than 140 sites throughout Arizona.

Backpack Program

St. Mary’s Food Bank’s Backpack Program works with community partners to identify chronically hungry children and provide them with a weekly food bag to help their families through the weekend. Backpacks are filled with non-perishable ingredients that provide at least three nutritious meals to a family of four. Backpacks can serve as a means of providing direct assistance to families in rural areas, or to those with limited transportation options. We currently collaborate with more than 100 schools and community centers to provide about 7,000 backpacks per week to families across the state.

Summer Food Service Program

St. Mary's Food Bank again assumes sponsorship of the 2023 Summer Food Service Program for children and teens, providing meals to more than 100 locations across the state of Arizona. The purpose of the program is to help ease the burden families face to feed their children over the summer, when families would normally rely on the free breakfast and lunch programs during the school year. Meals will be made available free to all children 18 years of age and under. To see a complete list of sites, click the button below. Contact the site directly to confirm space, enrollment qualifications, and meal services times.

How You Can Help

  • St. Mary’s Food Bank’s Child Nutrition Programs are expanding to meet the need in our community. To support daily operations for program sustainability and growth, as well as to alleviate food-purchasing, supply, and equipment costs, we ask that you make a donation online.

  • Volunteers are essential to our Child Nutrition Programs. To help prepare meals and assemble backpacks at our Surprise location, contact Volunteer Services at or call (602) 343-5637.

  • Child Nutrition Program partners host a Kids Cafe® or Backpack Program at qualifying locations to help feed hungry kids. To partner and provide free, healthy meals to kids at risk of hunger, complete this form or contact or call (602) 343-3124.

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