Free summer meals for students is one text away

Published: Jun. 17, 2019 at 7:11 PM CDT
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It’s no secret that hunger doesn’t get to take a summer break, unlike students. Unfortunately, most summer meal programs only last roughly six weeks which means many students who rely on school lunch programs go without during summer vacation. But thanks to a new text option, non-profit organizations hope to tackle this issue by the push of a few simple buttons.

“There are a lot of programs throughout our community available to help students and their families who are dealing with food insecurities,” stated Amanda Tabin, Community Impact Director with United Way.

By texting the word “food” to the number 877-877 you will receive several locations closest to you that provide free meals along with their hours of operation. All you have to do is respond to the text with your zip code.

“Last summer we served 25,000 breakfast meals and nearly 30,000 lunches,” added Tiffany Miskowski, Nutrition Services Operations Supervisor for the Wausau School District. “Generally we only get students who are here for our summer school program but this is open to the community as long as you’re under 18-years-old.”

The Wausau School District and similar organizations that provide meals hope that this new texting option will keep people more informed on free food near them to combat the issue of hunger.

“We know that the younger individuals use texting as a way to communicate most frequently,” added Tabin.

Although the 877-877 resource currently only provides locations for free food during the summer, there’s a year-round number you can text as well.

Thanks to the Marathon County Hunger Coalition, by texting your zip code to 898-211 you could communicate with a real-life specialist that will assist with multiple health-related concerns or questions year round.

“About 35% of request for food assistance that is met by the hunger coalition is for youth under the age of 18. We are really passionate that all our kids in the community have the healthy food they need to grow,” said Tabin.