Each summer, free healthy meals are available to children ages 18 and younger at approved sites across Arizona as part of the Summer Lunch Buddies program. Sites are operated by schools, nonprofit agencies or local governments and are located in low-income neighborhoods where many children receive free or reduced price school breakfast and lunch during the school year.

During the school year in Arizona, nearly 650,000 meals are served at schools each day. Last summer, though, just 16,007 meals were served daily at schools and other community sites by the Summer Food Service Program. Summer Lunch Buddies is designed to ensure that more of Arizona’s children are eating healthy and being active when school is out. Nutritious meals are critical to students and families during the school year, and that need doesn’t stop when the last school bell sounds. Good food and activities with friends are just as important during the summer, and we are making sure families know about this opportunity.

Summer Lunch Buddies offers several ways to help families find nearby locations serving summer meals including an interactive map to help families find a Summer Food Service Program site in their neighborhood, and a toolkit with informative flyers, posters, and other promotional materials to help sponsors and partners get the word out and help families locate approved sites.

Summer Lunch Buddies is part of the Summer Food Service Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Child Nutrition Program established to ensure that children ages 18 and younger in low-income households receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. In Arizona, the Summer Food Service Program is administered by the Arizona Department of Education.