SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – At the Lied Boy’s and Girl’s Club in Salt Lake City, Utah, children and teenagers come to spend their days playing, going on field trips, and hanging out with friends. While they’re here, these kids also receive warm, nutritious meals.
“They offer donations for the food and everything so we don’t go without,” says Lori Tonge, whose 13-year-old son attends the Lied Boy’s and Girl’s Club.
Programs like this, which work in partnership with The Utah Food Bank, exist all throughout the state, aiming to help the 1 in 5 Utah children who suffer from hunger.
“It’s a balanced meal. It’s a 4 to 5 item meal. It’s prepared at the Utah Food Bank and delivered to locations…and those kids are able to have a nice meal here that they can call their dinner,” says Ginette Bott of The Utah Food Bank.
These summer programs are particularly important because many kids would normally receive their meals through programs at school.
“Hunger has no season, those kids need to be fed every day of the year…And for them when that school year ends, a difficult time begins,” explains Bott.
On top of that, Bott says that food donations drop significantly during the summer months.
“Summer is a time when we’re all doing things that families enjoy, but usually that doesn’t involve volunteering, or donating, or doing things that you do during the holidays for example,” she says.
Amanda Hughes, the Director of Development at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Greater Salt Lake says that for some of these kids these programs are vital.
“If they didn’t have a hot meal, they’d go hungry,” she says, “That’s so important for kids to have that consistency to know that they have a place that they can go where they have people that care about them, and a hot meal waiting for them. It just helps them feel important, and taken care of and stable.”
This summer, these feeding programs are estimated to serve more than 77 thousand meals to kids throughout the state.
For information on programs near you, visit utahfoodbank.org. The Utah Food Bank cannot explicitly fundraise for these programs, but if you’re interested in hosting a Summer Food or Fund drive at your business, that information is also available at utahfoodbank.org.