Somewhere near you there’s a summer meals program where anyone under 18 — and sometimes whole families — can get lunch and often breakfast at no charge. Thanks to the federal government and to state subsidies, schools, gyms, rec centers, libraries, churches and other organizations are open at mealtimes. Some groups, like the Hartford Community Coalition, even deliver.
The programs are easier to find in Vermont, which last year ranked second in the country (behind Washington, D.C.) in the percentage of lower-income kids who were able to get fed during the summer — about 30 percent. New Hampshire ranked 21st, with 16 percent (behind, among others, Indiana, Georgia and South Carolina).
Most of the programs started up in mid-June and will run through the summer. Because all those kids whose families struggle to make ends meet during the school year don’t magically stop eating when school’s out.
Oh, and before you leave that comment: Yes, we know these lunches aren’t really free. They’re funded by all of us as taxpayers. And hundreds of volunteers across Vermont and New Hampshire give their time, energy, and enthusiasm to make, serve, and deliver them. It’s a collective effort to make sure kids don’t go hungry.
Here’s where to go:
Bethel: Bethel School, Mon-Fri until 8/3, 8:30-9:00 and 12:00-12:30
Bradford: Bradford Elementary School, Mon-Fri until 8/17, 8:00-9:30, 10:50-12:30
Bradford: Bradford Public Library, Tues-Fri until 8/17, 12:00-1:00, plus afternoon snacks
Chelsea: Chelsea Public School, Mon-Fri until 8/3, 9:15-9:45 and 12:00-12:30
Hartford: White River School, Mon-Fri until 8/17, 11:00-1:00
Randolph: Randolph Summer Camp, Mon-Fri until 8/3, 10:00-10:30 and 12:00-1:00
Sharon: Sharon Elementary School, Mon-Fri until 8/3, 8:30-9:00 and 12:00-12:30
South Royalton: South Royalton School, Mon-Fri until 8/3, 8:30-9:00 and 12:00-12:30
South Strafford: Newton School, Mon-Fri until 7/27, 9:00-9:30 and 12:00 to 12:30
Springfield: Freedom Park, Mon-Fri until 8/17, 12:00-1:00
Springfield: Meeting Waters YMCA, Mon-Fri until 8/17, 12:00-12:30
Springfield: Southview Housing, Mon-Fri until 8/17, 12:00-1:00
Springfield: Springfield Family Center, Mon-Fri until 8/17, 12:00-1:00
Springfield: Springfield Town Library, Mon-Fri until 8/17, 12:00-1:00
Springfield: Springfield Town Pool, Mon-Fri until 8/17, 12:00-1:00
Windsor: Windsor Recreation Center, Mon-Fri until 8/13, 12:00-1:00
Windsor: Windsor Connection Resource Center, Mon-Fri until 8/13, 11:30-12:30
Windsor: Windsor High School, Mon-Fri until 8/13, 12:00-1:00
In New Hampshire:
Canaan: Canaan Elementary School, Mon-Fri until 8/3, 7:45-8:30 and 11:30-12:30
Enfield: Enfield Village School, Mon-Fri until 8/3, 900-9:30 and 11:30-12:00
Lebanon: Lebanon Lunch Friends works with Twin Pines Housing Trust to deliver meals to several Twin Pines sites each day.
For addresses, phone numbers, and a full list of Vermont sites, go to: https://www.hungerfreevt.org/summer-meals-site-lists
And you can also text the word “FOOD” to 877-877 and get an automated response with the nearest sites.