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Free summer meal programs kick off across Tucson

The school year has ended, but childhood hunger has not
Posted at 4:51 PM, May 29, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The school year has ended, but childhood hunger has not. School districts across Tucson have started their free summer meals program.

Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) and other school districts started their programs this week, which are meant to support families in need even after the school year ends.

TUSD says they will serve around 1,000 free meals a day across 100 of their participating locations.

For some kids, school breakfast and lunch are the only meals they eat. Data from Feeding America show that 1-in-5 children face hunger every day in Arizona.

Jacqueline Grassmyer, site supervisor for the food service staff at TUSD, has been working the summer program for around 15 years.

“You know, I feel like we’re doing something super important for these kids," Grassmyer said. "Eating is such a basic thing, but so many people are struggling with it.”

Marana Unified School District and Amphitheater Public Schools also have their own free summer meals for Tucson youth. Neither sign-ups nor enrollment is required for any of the programs.

Director of TUSD food services, Lindsey Aguilar, says the district understands the community's need for food and wants to help families and children out by offering free meals.

“It doesn’t have to be TUSD families that can participate," Aguilar said. "So if there’s other children that live nearby a school, they’re welcome to come and receive a meal.”

Peter Paisano, a food services staff member at TUSD, invites families to enjoy breakfast and lunch at their participating locations this summer.

“Food is at an all-time high, rent is at an all-time high," Paisano said. "Whatever services we can provide to that particular student, we’re more than happy to do so. That’s why we’re here.”

TUSD ensures meals will be available throughout the entire summer.

“Our schools will operate through June and then our non-TUSD schools will continue operating at the Parks & Rec and Boys & Girls Clubs and other locations into July."

TUSD's summer meal program details, locations and meals can be found here. MUSD's summer meal program details are linked here and Amphi's summer meal program details are here.

Food Pantries, Meal Sites, and Emergency Food Services in Pima County are available as well.

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Jacqueline Aguilar is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9. Born and raised in Yuma, AZ., she is no stranger to the unforgiving Arizona heat. Now this U of A wildcat is excited to be back in Tucson and is looking forward to involving herself in the community. Share your story ideas with Jacqueline by emailing jacqueline.aguilar@kgun9.com or connecting on Facebook, Instagram or X.