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For Many Colorado Kids, Hunger Doesn't Take a Holiday

Families who rely on school meal programs lean on food pantries when kids are out of school for the holidays. (Getty Images)
Families who rely on school meal programs lean on food pantries when kids are out of school for the holidays. (Getty Images)
December 18, 2017

DENVER – When school lets out for the winter holidays, children get a break from homework, but for families struggling to pay bills and put food on the table, it's no vacation.

Ellie Agar, communications manager with Hunger Free Colorado, says nearly 1 in 6 Colorado children may not know when or where he or she will get the next meal.

"For a lot of Colorado families, the holidays are really a time of celebration,” she states. “But for families who are struggling with hunger, the holidays and time when kids are out of school can really be a challenge."

A significant number of Colorado children rely on the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program for healthy meals when school is in session.

Agar says the program especially is important during months when extra expenses, such as buying gifts and hosting holiday meals, squeeze family budgets.

"Last school year, there was actually more than 245,000 Colorado kids who were participating in the free and reduced-price lunch program, due to their family's income," she states.

Agar notes children are eligible for free meals if their family's income is at or below 130 percent of the poverty level, about $32,000 a year or less for a family of four.

Agar also encourages families not struggling during the holiday season to give whatever support they can by calling the Hunger Free Hotline. She says the hotline's navigators can help connect people with food pantries that may need supplies or an extra hand.

"Anyone can reach out to that hotline, whether they're looking to volunteer or to donate or looking for food assistance because the hotline can connect them with those local resources," she points out.

The toll-free Hunger Free Hotline is at (855) 855-4626.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO