The Dairy Council of Arizona, Tempe, Ariz., said it awarded $40,000 in grants to summer feeding programs this June Dairy Month.
Arizona's hunger rates are higher than national averages, with an estimated 370,960 Arizona children facing hunger daily, according to Feeding America's 2016 “Map the Meal Gap” study. One in five children is hungry in Arizona.
Arizona ranks sixth in the nation for the worst child food insecurity rates, the council said. And according to the Arizona Department of Education's Health & Nutrition Services numbers, an astounding 57% of all enrolled school-aged children are approved to receive free or reduced-price school breakfasts and lunches.
"Summer feeding provides the nutritional bridge between the end of one school year and the beginning of a new school year, and we're committed to assisting schools and nonprofit agencies increase participation in their summer feeding programs so students return to school healthy and ready to learn," said Tammy Baker, general manager of Arizona Milk Producers.
In partnership with the Arizona Department of Education, the Arizona Milk Producers awarded 20 $2,000 grants to school districts participating in the free Fuel Up to Play 60 program. Grants were also awarded to a number of Arizona summer feeding sites.
Arizona Milk Producers also teamed up with the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation in an effort to feed hungry neighbors. Fans bringing three boxes of cereal or making a $10 donation at the game on June 29 received a raffle ticket for a chance to win autographed items, tickets and batting practice passes. Fans donated 453 boxes of cereal and $2,770, and the Diamondbacks donated $10,000, all benefiting the Pitch In to End Hunger partners. Monetary donations are helping to cover highly requested perishable items such as milk, the council said.
Additional month-long activities, including participation in community events, focus on raising awareness about dairy's role in a healthy diet and how the public can donate nutrient-rich milk to those in need.