Simla Elementary School first graders McKenna Stanco, left, and Bella McCann eat lunch together in the Big Sandy School Monday, February 25, 2019. (Mark Reis, Special to The Colorado Sun)

By Kati Weis, Chalkbeat Colorado

Fewer than one out of every 10 Colorado children who rely on free or reduced-price lunches during the school year are getting access to the state’s free summer nutrition programs, according to a new report published by a national organization studying hunger. 

The report found that nationally only one in seven children are utilizing the government-funded free summer lunch programs. 

In fact, the report found Colorado ranks as one of the lowest — at number 40 out of all 50 states — in providing federally funded summer meals to children who depend on free or discounted lunches throughout the rest of the year. 

The report, titled “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Summer Vacation,” and published by the Washington, D.C.-based Food Research and Action Center, also said Colorado has made some improvement since 2017, when it ranked 44th among states. 

Taylor Washington with Hunger Free Colorado, a non-profit that seeks to connect families to food resources, credited that progress to the addition of 190 summer meal distribution sites across the state. This summer, 680 sites throughout Colorado are serving about 1.5 million meals to children. That’s 30,000 more meals than the previous summer, according to Washington. 

While Colorado has made some improvement, Washington said some federal policy changes could make summer meals available to more children who need them. 


Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news organization covering schools and education. The news organization believes education is a local issue, and roots its coverage in local communities. Chalkbeat reports from and about eight locations: Colorado, Chicago,...