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New program helps Colorado families with summer food insecurity

New program helps Colorado families with summer food insecurity
New program helps Colorado families with summer food insecurity 02:21

Many students eat breakfast and lunch for free at school, but some families struggle during the summer months when their kitchens become their kids' only cafeterias. A new program in Colorado will help keep pantries full when students aren't in school.

The Summer Electronic Benefits program, or Summer EBT, will provide eligible families with $120 per student through a one-time payment. That's $40 per month of summer break. Colorado is expected to provide $30 million to $35 million in benefits, allowing the new program to assist around 300,000 kids.

"These benefits, along with other available nutrition assistance programs such as SNAP, WIC and summer meal sites, will help ensure that kids have access to nutritious foods during the summer months when school isn't in session," said Karla Maraccini, food and energy assistance director for the Colorado Department of Human Services.

Benefits will come in the form of pre-loaded cards that families can use to purchase groceries. 

Eligible food items include bread and cereals, fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy, soft drinks, cookies and snack crackers.

Families with eligible students will be mailed a notice of eligibility for each individual student.

Many families will automatically receive Summer EBT through enrollment in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program and their prior eligibility for Colorado Works (TANF), SNAP and Medicaid services. It will be a permanent program moving forward.

According to the Colorado Department of Human Services, an application will be available soon. 

For more information visit the department's website, call 800-536-5298 or text 720-741-0550.

Aurora Public Schools and select recreation centers are helping fill meal gaps while students are on break.

"In 2023, we gave out more than 50,000 meals," said Sara Van Holbeck with Aurora Parks, Recreation & Open Space. "So many kids rely on the meals they provide during the school year and we're so happy to be able to continue that service."

When CBS News Colorado visited Moorhead Rec to check out the program, all of the snacks and sandwiches had been devoured by kids. Staff says it's an area with need and the food goes quickly.

Aurora Public Schools is offering individual meals to anyone 18 and under from May 28 to Aug. 2. 

In addition, select schools will be offering a Summer Big Bag Meal Kit Service. The kits are free to anyone 18 years and under. You can pick up a 5-day meal kit (one per child). Meal Kits include five breakfasts and five lunches.

Times and School Locations:

  • Yale 10:45 to 11 a.m.
  • Tierra Park 11:15 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Aurora Hills 11:45 a.m. to noon
  • Rocky Ridge Park 12:15 to 12:30 p.m.
  • Iowa 12:45 to 1 p.m.
  • North Middle 10:45 to 11 a.m.
  • Hillcrest Village 11:15 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Elkhart 11:45 a.m. to noon
  • Friendly Village 12:15 to 12:30 p.m.
  • Laredo 12:45 to 1 p.m.

Meals are also available from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Central Rec Center
  • Del Mar Pool
  • Hoops Park
  • Mission Viejo Park
  • Utah Pool
  • Meadow Hills Pool
  • Village Green Pool
  • Southeast Rec Center
  • Aurora West
  • Gateway
  • Hinkley
  • Rangeview
  • Vista PEAK Preparatory
  • Aurora Frontier
  • Charles Burrell K8
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