We all know that food is essential, and we understand that, as parents, it can be difficult to afford food and groceries (among other things) in these times. During the summer, when school is out, finding regular, readily available meals for your children can be even more difficult. So, we’ve compiled a list of resources to find free meals and food assistance for your children of all ages.
We will answer the following questions about free food for children during the summer:
- Are there programs that offer free meals for children during the summer?
- Where can I find free groceries to cook for my children?
- Where can I get formula or baby food for my infant?
- What is the fastest way to get immediate food help?
- Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to receive free food assistance?
- Can I still receive food help after summer is over?
Are there programs that offer free meals for children during the summer?
Yes! To search for free meals, you can click HERE to go to the USDA Summer Meals for Kids Site Finder.
These are the steps to use this tool:
- Enter your address or zip code in the search bar at the top right of the page. Depending on the distance you can travel, you can adjust the results from 0 miles to 15 miles away.
- View the points on the map to see the locations closest to you, or review the list of locations on the right side.
- When you click on a point on the map or a location on the list, you will find information such as the site address, the start and end dates when they offer free meals, the days of operation, and which meals they offer.
To find the best option for you and your child, reviewing multiple location options is important because each site operates differently and offers different meals.
You can text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 304-304 to receive information about more locations offering free summer meals.
Where can I find free groceries to cook for my children?
Feeding America offers a similar search tool to the one above, HERE. You can search using your zip code or state to find food banks near you. A food bank is a location that offers free groceries and food assistance to those in need. You don’t have to prove anything about your financial or legal status to receive these goods.
After searching based on your location, you will find a list of nearby food banks, along with their address and phone number. To find their hours of operation, you can call the number provided (likely, someone will be able to speak with you in Spanish, if needed), or you can Google the name of the food bank.
Where can I get formula or baby food for my infant?
Some food banks offer formula and baby food, as well. Please note that food banks usually offer formula in limited quantities.
Food banks can also offer resources to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). These programs offer monthly stipends to purchase groceries for your family.
You can also find your local SNAP office HERE or WIC office HERE.
What is the fastest way to get immediate food help?
If you’re facing a food-related emergency, please call or text 2-1-1. The representatives should be able to help you find food urgently. You can also visit their site HERE for more information. 2-1-1 also offers assistance in most other emergency situations.
Findhelp.org is another online resource center for food-related information such as emergency food assistance, food delivery services, and more. This organization offers assistance for other categories such as housing, legal, health, etc.
Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to receive free food assistance?
Except for SNAP and WIC, you can receive food assistance for free without any citizenship requirements. However, SNAP and WIC programs are available if your child is a U.S. citizen. Contact your local office for more information. Receiving any food help will not affect your status or eligibility to apply for citizenship.
Can I still receive food help after summer is over?
Food banks, SNAP, WIC, and most food services offered by nonprofit organizations run year-round. Even if school is in session, you can still use most resources in this article. If your child qualifies for free or reduced school lunches, contact your school administration for more information. Usually, schools send out applications at the beginning of each school year. However, you can still ask for an application at any point in the school year.
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