Nearly 80% of children who are eligible to get free summer meals in Rhode Island are not accessing them. But now there is a new hunger hotline for families to locate places their children can eat.

The USDA National Hunger Hotline can be reached at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (for Spanish). Through the hotline, callers can locate summer meals sites for kids, food pantries or soup kitchens for families, and/or other government and private meals programs near them.

According to Hunger Free America, a national non-profit, humans must burn more calories over the summer to keep cool and record temperatures this summer will further increase the need for free summer meals for low-income children funded by the federal government.

Even though children need just as much, if not more, nutrition during the summer months, in Rhode Island, only 20.1 percent of kids who receive free and reduced school meals, receive summer meals.

Raising awareness about this program is the single greatest barrier to participation, according to Hunger Free America so if you know someone in need, let them know about the hotline. Summer meals are available to all kids 18 and under, and no identification is required.

At the same time, a new national volunteer matching website connects summer volunteers and organizations across the nation in the fight against hunger.
Hunger Free America launched, www.hungervolunteer.org. a state-of-the art volunteer matching portal to make it easier to mobilize the unique talents and skills of each individual volunteer in order to take the biggest bite out of hunger.

“Now everyone can get – or give – help,” said Hunger Free America’s CEO Joel Berg. “We are starting a national awareness campaign and want to make sure that people who need help can get it quickly and easily. We also want to make sure that all Americans can give back, by volunteering in ways that move beyond soup kitchen work to attack hunger at its root causes.”

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