For families in need of a summer food site: Just text

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It works. Text “FOOD” to 877-877, type in your ZIP Code (or address), and a list of the nearest summer food sites will appear on your phone.

Habla espanol? Escriba “COMIDA.”

The national anti-hunger organization No Kid Hungry tried the new service a year ago, receiving 55,000 texts. This year, as the word has spread, the organization reports it has already received 350,000 texts.

“These free meals programs are a critical way to ensure kids have access to healthy meals during the summer months,” said Derrick Lambert, a program manager with No Kid Hungry. “But we found that not enough families knew about them.”

Summer food programs have been stepping in to fill the nutrition gap for children when schools and their food services close at the end of the school year.

Many school sites are continuing food service through the summer. Some extend only through their summer school sessions. But other providers are filling in the gaps, and No Kid Hungry has tried to make its list of providers easily available.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that some 12 percent of American households experience food insecurity at some point every year.

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