Sucaad Cawaale tries to get her three children to eat a nutritious lunch, something many low-income families in King County can’t always afford. “Nutritious food can be expensive,” says Sucaad, who is from Somalia but has lived in Seattle for 20 years and calls it home. But her son, age 9, and daughters, ages 12 and 13 have other things on their mind. After all, it’s summer and they’re at the playground. Sacaad insists they eat. Their lunch is free, thanks to United Way’s Fuel Your Future program, which provides free breakfasts and lunches at parks, community centers, and libraries all summer long. Last year, we served 650,000 meals in King County, meals that help stretch the dollars of low-income families that struggle with hunger. Because United Way leverages the federal program AmeriCorps, summer vistas are able to serve meals at 200 sites spread across the county, including high-need communities.
Sacaad says summer is especially difficult when kids don’t have access to free and reduced-price lunch at school. “When they’re out of school, they’re eating at home 3 times a day. With summer meals, they can eat breakfast and lunch for free.” The United Way program can save a family a few hundred dollars each month during the summer. That’s money they can use to pay for rent, electricity or supplies for school.
As one of her daughters sits down to eat with her, Sucaad comments on the lunch – “It’s really good and it’s healthy!” – and mentions that she’ll be recommending the meals program to friends and neighbors in her community.
With 1 in 5 students in Washington struggling with hunger, United Way is committed to fueling the future of every young person in King County, one summer meal at a time. Click here to find sites near you.