Montana families able to find free summer meals via text message
June 3, 2020
HELENA — Many of the same meal programs that served families during COVID-19 school closures will continue throughout the summer months, and they just became easier for families to find thanks to the opening of a texting service.
The Summer Food Service Program, a USDA program overseen by the Montana Office of Public Instruction at the state level, expanded to provide food to kids when regular school breakfast and lunch options weren’t available during the coronavirus emergency. Now that the school year is officially coming to a close, most of those Summer Meal sites will continue to serve families June through August as they do every year.
According to the Montana Office of Public Instruction, 350 Summer Meal sites are operating throughout the state.
“I appreciate the local school and community organizations that have shifted the way they are providing meals for Montana’s children in a way that is more accessible and safe during this difficult time,” said OPI School Nutrition Director Christine Emerson.
The easiest way to find detailed information on the nearest Summer Meal site is via the No Kid Hungry Summer Meal Text Line. The service is free, and open to anyone. A parent, grandparent or caregiver can simply text the word “FOOD” to 877-877 and the system prompts them to provide their address or zip code, which is used to provide the location and service times of up to three nearby summer meals sites.
The text messaging option has been available in the summer months in the state since 2017 and continues to provide a critical service, said Danielle Anderson, summer meals and nutrition coordinator for Montana No Kid Hungry.
“This has been an excellent way to get the word out about where the numerous summer meal programs are located in communities all across the state,” Anderson said. “And, this summer, it’ll be even more important that families know where they can find these sites.”
Montana No Kid Hungry, as part of the national non-profit organization Share Our Strength and the Department of Public Health and Human Services, is dedicated to putting an end to child hunger in the state. In Montana, 1 in 6 children live in households that experience food insecurity. The mission of Montana No Kid Hungry is to connect families to healthy food today and build up communities to end hunger for the future.
For more information about the Summer Food Service Program please contact Kim Lloyd, SFSP manager-OPI School Nutrition, at [email protected] .