As summer break is in full swing, it brings something else for hundreds of thousands of Arizona children: Hunger. That’s why the Dairy Council of Arizona is awarding $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*. One in five children is hungry in ArizonaArizona ranks sixth in the nation for worst child food insecurity rates. And according to the Arizona Department of Education’s Health & Nutrition Services numbers, an astounding 57 percent of all enrolled school-aged children are approved to receive the 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 non-profit 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, including: Litchfield Elementary School District, Rogers Ranch School, Paseo Pointe School, Desert Meadows School, Maurice C. Cash Elementary School, Chandler Unified School District Food and Nutrition, Gilbert Public Schools Nutrition Services (Meridian Elementary School, Harris Elementary School, Superstition Springs Elementary School, Sonoma Ranch Elementary School, Boulder Creek Elementary School, and Houston Elementary School), Humboldt Unified School District (Mountain View Elementary, Lake Valley Elementary, Humboldt Elementary, and Coyote Springs Elementary), Crane Elementary District (Pueblo Elementary School, Salida Del Sol Elementary School, Valley Horizon Elementary School, Gary A. Knox Elementary School, and Ronald Reagan Elementary School), Creighton School District (Monte Vista School, Excelencia School, Papago School Gateway School, Larry C. Kennedy SchoolWilliam T. Machan School, and supper meals at Monte Vista Baptist Church Alpha & Omega Church, as well as two bus route sites),

Grants have also been awarded to the following Arizona summer feeding sites: American Heart Association (AHA) – Halle Heart Children’s Museum (HHCM), Dysart Community Center, GAP Ministries: Arivaca Community Center, GAP Ministries: Arts for All, GAP Ministries: Drexel Heights Community Center, GAP Ministries, GAP Ministries: Salvation Army, ICM Food & Clothing Bank, Native American Advancement Foundation (NAAF), Prophetic Vision Ministries, The Salvation Army and Valley of the Sun YMCA: Maryvale Family YMCA.

Arizona Milk Producers also teamed up with the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation in an effort to feed our 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, including local schools, Mom’s Pantry, St. Mary’s Food Bank, St. Vincent de Paul, and more. Monetary donations are helping to cover highly-requested, perishable items like milk.

Additional month-long activities, including participating 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.