According to a fact sheet released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), an average of 31 million students benefits from free or reduced lunches. By providing subsidies to approved school districts, this program ensures that no child stumbles through algebra on an empty stomach. When the school year ends, however, many low-income children struggle with summertime hunger.

Derrick Lambert, a program manager with No Kid Hungry, is cognizant of the dangers posed by summertime hunger. “We know that when access to school breakfast and lunch goes away, rates of hunger increase,” he said in a press release. No Kid Hungry estimates that four million American children struggle with summertime hunger.

Lambert’s next statement, however, lightened the mood. “But we also know that a solution exists.”


In 2013, No Kid Hungry collaborated with the USDA to tackle a major hurdle to summertime nutrition: a lack of awareness. “One of the biggest barriers to kids taking part in this program is that families simply don’t know that help is available,” said Lambert in a press release.

The two organizations created a free texting service that connects families and community leaders with local meal sites. Accessing the service is simple:

  1. Text ‘FOOD’ or ‘COMIDA’ to 877-877.
  2. Put in your zip code or address.

You then receive an address and service times for up to three meal sites in your area. While this texting program was once victim to relatively low participation, receiving just 55,000 texts last year, its popularity surged by nearly 600 percent in 2017.


Now that we know about this text-based solution, let’s learn more about the players involved.

The first of these, No Kid Hungry, is a non-profit working to end child hunger in America. This program has existed, in one form or another, since 1984. While it once battled against starvation in Ethiopia, it now focuses solely on domestic issues. Click here to find out more about this organization’s history and philosophy.

The US Department of Agriculture, on the other hand, is a government entity that oversees “food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues.” More information can be found on their website.

If you or your family struggles with hunger, consider texting 877-877 or downloading the Meal Connect application.