DENVER, CO – Summer is supposed to be a relaxing time for kids – a time to put books away and enjoy their school breaks. Yet for 13 million children, relaxation can be far from their thoughts and instead replaced with worry as they wonder where their next meal will be.
These children are among the 42 million people who may be at risk of chronic hunger in the United States in 2021, a number that the pandemic only made worse, according to Feeding America, one of the largest hunger relief organizations in the country.
Denver is one of the places that is badly affected by hunger this year.
The struggle intensifies in the summer months. According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, approximately 30.4 million children during school age rely on the National School Lunch program for free and discounted meals.
In the summer months, however, only a fraction of these children use the traditional summer meals offered by schools.
Congress has taken several steps this year to ensure that children continue to have easy access to food during the summer months. In March, the US Department of Agriculture announced the extension of several exemptions through September 30th. The extension enables all school districts to offer free summer meals to all children, regardless of income level.
The USDA Children’s Meal Site Finder was also established to help children, parents, and others quickly and easily find summer food near them.
While Summer Meals is expected to serve nearly 54 million meals this year, according to Feeding America, not every family has convenient and easy access to a place for summer dining.
Larders could pop up here to fill in gaps. This means that now is another great time to make a donation to our local food supplies.
Are you wondering what to donate? Here are the 10 items most pantries, including those in Denver, need during the summer months:
- peanut butter
- Canned soup
- Canned fruits
- Canned vegetables
- Canned stew
- Canned fish
- Canned beans
- Whole wheat pasta
- Brown rice
- Child-friendly items such as granola bars, pudding cups or fruit snacks
It is important to note that the most urgently needed items in a pantry do not change from school to the summer months. According to Feeding America, most of these donated items could be used year round.
Food pantries and tablets have seen use up 55 percent from the pandemic, according to the latest data from Feeding America, undoing a decade of progress in ending hunger in the United States.
Some of the pantries and other services available in Metro Denver include:
Here are some other resources to consider if you’re about to donate but aren’t sure where to start:
Feeding America serves 200 member boards that serve and supply 60,000 pantries, kitchens, and meal programs across the country.
Find your local board
Donate to Feeding America *
“The effects of the coronavirus on food insecurity”
Take action against hunger
Patch News Partner / ShutterstockPatch has partnered with Feeding America to raise awareness for millions of Americans at risk of starvation. Feeding America, which supports 200 food banks across the country, estimates that by 2021 more than 42 million Americans will insufficiently eat enough nutritious foods due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a social project from Patch; Feeding America receives 100 percent of donations. * Find out how to donate in your community or find a pantry near you.