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Now Serving: Free, Healthy Summer Meals to Colorado Children

More than 600 community sites across Colorado are set to provide meals to children up to 18 years old at no cost during summer months. (Pixabay)
More than 600 community sites across Colorado are set to provide meals to children up to 18 years old at no cost during summer months. (Pixabay)
June 13, 2016

DENVER – Summer should be a fun time for all Colorado children, but many are at risk of going hungry when school cafeteria doors close.

In response, a collaboration of government agencies, nonprofit groups and school districts will provide free meals to all children up to 18 years old at more than 600 sites across the state.

Ellie Agar, a communications specialist with Hunger Free Colorado, says summer meal programs help struggling families stretch their food budgets until cafeteria doors open up again.

"So these programs are really critical to fill that gap when kids lose access to school meals,” she explains. “And we want to make sure that there's nutritious meals available to them so that they are ready to go and they are fueled when school starts up again at the end of the summer."

Agar says one in five Colorado children may not know when or where he or she will get a next meal.

The Summer Food Service Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the Colorado Department of Education.

Agar says successful partnerships across the state last year helped Colorado double the number of meals served compared to 2009.

Jeremy West, nutrition service director for the Greeley-Evans School District 6, says 66 percent of students in his district qualify for food assistance.

After reviewing the program over the past few years, West's district was determined to reach children in new ways and offer meals at more sites.

He says the goal for 2016 is to increase the number of meals served by 40 percent and remove barriers such as transportation that can keep children from getting the food they need.

"And also start to go to students, places where students congregate,” he adds. “So for us, through use of our new food truck, we're offering free summer meals at two city parks."

Families can find summer meal sites by calling Hunger Free Colorado's food resource hotline toll-free at (855) 855-4626, or by using an interactive map online at

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO