Ensuring Food Security for Arizona Students Beyond School Lunches

July 11, 2023

As summertime arrives in Arizona, many students who rely on school lunches during the academic year face limited access to these meals. The absence of school lunches can pose challenges for families striving to provide nutritious meals for their children. However, several resources and programs are available throughout the state to support families in obtaining supplemental meals during the summer months. These initiatives aim to ensure that children in Arizona continue to receive the nourishment they need to thrive. Here are some valuable resources to explore:

Summer Food Service Program (SFSP):

The Summer Food Service Program, administered by the Arizona Department of Education, offers free meals to children and teens during the summer months. Various sites across Arizona, such as schools, community centers, and nonprofit organizations, serve nutritious meals to ensure that students have access to balanced and healthy food even when school is not in session. To find SFSP sites near you, visit the Arizona Department of Education's website at https://www.azed.gov/summerfood/

Local Food Banks and Pantries:

Food banks and pantries play a crucial role in providing support to families facing food insecurity. Organizations like the St. Mary's Food Bank and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona distribute food and resources to individuals and families in need. They offer various programs, including mobile pantries and community distributions, to ensure that nutritious food reaches those who require assistance. 

Community Gardens and Farmers Markets:

Community gardens and farmers markets provide an opportunity for individuals and families to access fresh, locally grown produce. Many communities in Arizona have community garden initiatives where residents can grow their own fruits and vegetables. Additionally, farmers markets offer a wide range of fresh produce and often accept benefits like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Exploring these options not only supports food security but also promotes healthy eating habits. Check with your local government or visit the Arizona Community Farmers Market Association's website at https://arizonacommunityfarmersmarkets.com/  to find community gardens and farmers' markets near you.

While the absence of school lunches during the summertime in Arizona can present challenges, there are valuable resources available to support families in accessing nutritious meals for their children. The Summer Food Service Program, local food banks and pantries, and community gardens and farmers' markets are just a few examples of the resources that can help fill the gap. By taking advantage of these supplemental food options, families can ensure that their children continue to receive the nourishment they need to thrive throughout the summer break.

Remember, every child deserves access to healthy and nourishing meals, regardless of the time of year. Together, we can work towards a more food-secure Arizona.