AURORA | The school year may be over, but Aurora families who relied on free and reduced lunch provided at school still have a number of options this summer.
Both Aurora Public Schools and the Cherry Creek School District start their summer meal programs next week, which offer free breakfast and lunch to school-aged children and youth.
APS Nutrition Services is offering free breakfast and lunch to anyone 18 and under at 30 locations around the city from May 30 through Aug. 5. Lunch will also be provided at five additional district schools June 5 through 30.
Cherry Creek’s Summer Food Service Program runs Monday-Friday June 5 through July 27 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at six district schools: Canyon Creek Elementary School, Eastridge Community Elementary School, Independence Elementary School, Red Hawk Ridge Elementary School, Sunrise Elementary School and Village East Elementary School.
Meals are available to anyone 18 and under, according to the district.
Cherry Creek is also once again partnering with APS to offer meals at two outdoor sites this summer. From 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. meals will be offered at Utah Park and Mission Viejo Park.
Food insecurity, especially among families with children, has been a frequent topic of discussion in Colorado since the beginning of the pandemic. This school year the districts returned to requiring families to fill out applications to receive free and reduced lunch after the U.S. Department of Agriculture ended an expanded school lunch program created during the pandemic.
At the time, district officials said the need had decreased from the height of the pandemic when APS became the largest provider of free meals in Aurora, but that the need was still there.
More recently, Colorado food bank operators said that rising costs due to inflation and the end of expanded food stamp allotments at the end of February were causing them to brace for an increase in people seeking assistance.
“With this additional benefit ending we’re going to see quite a bit more need in our community,” chief marketing officer at Food Bank of the Rockies Aditi Desai told the Sentinel in March.
This coming school year, both APS and Cherry Creek will be participating in a new state program to offer free school meals to all students. The initiative will be funded with a tax measure that was approved by voters in last fall’s election.
The full list of locations for summer meals and more details are available at nutrition.aurorak12.org and cherrycreekschools.org.
A number of other organizations also provide various forms of food assistance. A list of local food banks is available on the Arapahoe County government website, and families can search for summer meals by going to kidsfoodfinder.org or texting ‘food’ or ‘comida’ to 304-304.