Summer nutrition program keeps Utah kids fed even while school is out of session

Posted at 10:02 PM, Jun 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-08 10:55:00-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Every year during the summer, the Utah State Office of Education holds its Summer Food Service Program, which provides meals for thousands of children throughout the state.

Summer may mean freedom from schoolwork, but for many children in Utah it also means a greater uncertainty about where breakfast and lunch are coming from. That’s why schools across Utah offer a summer food service each year.

“There’s a lot of our community that need help, we call it the food that’s in when school is out, so it's a good program, it operates on the same standards as the national school lunch program and breakfast program during the school year, so the nutritional component is there,” said Rich Prall, who is the director of food service for Granite School District.

Kristine Scott, a registered dietician with Ogden School District, said they give the kids balanced meals.

“They’re getting a nutritious meal, the same as they would receive at a school through the school year: They're getting fruit and vegetables, whole grains," she said.

Children can line up to fill their trays with fruits and veggies, and an entrée like a chicken sandwich.

Kathleen Britton, The director of the Child Nutrition Programs for Utah, says a full stomach isn't the only advantage to this program.

“It gets them outside to be healthy, and they get other activities,” she said. “We have arts in the park here today, so it keeps them not only fed stomach-wise, but they are healthy with their minds and their bodies.”

The summer food service program is federally funded and supported by 38 sponsors in Utah and will provide more than 49,000 meals to Utah kids this summer.

Some parents said this is a help to their pocketbook.

“I don’t have to buy extra lunch things, and so we can come here and like I said it's very nutritious for them,” Tammy Woodward said.

And for some kids, they say it's a time for them to play with their friends.

“It’s really fun because you get chances that you’d never would, like arts in the park and it's nice just to see just a friendly face every day, giving you delicious lunch,” Abigal Woodward said.

There are currently 218 sites that serve lunch to all kids 18 and younger in Utah, and some locations serve breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. An interactive map is available to help people find a site near their location, click here for details.