By Brooke Curley
SAFFORD – Summer meals for kids have returned but with several changes to the program.
Any child under the age of 18 can come and receive a free breakfast, lunch and dinner this summer at designated areas. The summer meals program is part of a statewide federally funded meal program called the Summer Food Service Program. Any adult who wishes to acquire a meal may do so also, but must pay $1.90 for breakfast and $2.65 for lunch. The fee for adults has increased somewhat this year from last year. Also, the dinner program has moved from Lafe Nelson Cafeteria to Ruth Powell Cafeteria, and the St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church will only be serving lunch.
Meals may be eaten without registration, and each meal meets federal nutritional guidelines. There are no forms to fill out on site, and children do not need to be registered in school to receive the meals.
Currently, one in three Arizona children live in poverty. Arizona also has higher than average hunger statics. The summer meal program was created so children would not go hungry during the summer months out of school, where they normally would be fed breakfast and lunch.
One of the biggest needs within the Gila Valley is suitable places for the Summer Food Service Program to be utilized. Food Service Director John Walker told Gila Valley Central that the food is available, but the organization needs individuals who are willing to share a space to feed the local children and adults in the community.
“If somebody wanted to volunteer to host a site, that’s the big thing we need,” Walker said. “We’ve got lots of volunteers at the middle school, but (we’re looking for) someone to volunteer to host a site and if they had a site in mind that they could run and if it was appropriate. We’ve hosted at people’s houses before. Somebody out on Lebanon Loop had us do a site in their carport. They had tables set up. Kids could sit around the table under the carport. There was a restroom if they needed to wash their hands.”
Sites & times are subject to change. Please watch Gila Valley Central for changes. For more information call 348-7005 or 348-7056.