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Sandra Yi ReportingStatistics show 15 percent of families in Utah don't know where their next nutritional meal will come from. Kids in those families can qualify for free or reduced meals during the school year, but there's no break from hunger during the summer months.
Fortunately, there is a free summer food program for kids 18 and under. We visited the cafeteria at Mountain View Elementary, where most of the students get a free or reduced lunch. In the summer they won't go hungry. It’s just one place where they can come and eat for free during the summer.
Steve Blackman, Utahns Against Hunger: "A lot of families are struggling. They struggle because of increased gas prices, low wages, large families, rents go up, whatever it is. So that means that the meal the school district provides, that, a lot of times, is the main nutrition that a child will get."
In 2002 more than 280,000 Utah students participated in the National School Lunch Program in 808 different schools. And that program doesn't take a break during the summer months. Last summer in the Salt Lake Valley alone 300,000 children ate free lunches as part of a summer lunch program sponsored by the Salt Lake City School District.
Jana Cruz: "The parents thank us consistently for the help it gives their family in spreading their dollars as far as food goes in their home."
Steve Blackman: "It makes a huge difference for a lot of families who are struggling just to make ends meet."
But Blackman hopes more families will participate so no one goes hungry.
There are summer food programs throughout the state, starting next month. Many of them are at schools or community parks.
For more information and to find a lunch site near you, you can call Utahns Against Hunger at 801-328-2561.