Metro

Hot line can help families struggling with hunger

Massachusetts families who are struggling with hunger can call a nationwide toll-free hot line for help in finding resources.

The hot line, 1-866-3-HUNGRY, or 1-877-8-HAMBRE, for Spanish speakers, is available Monday though Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, excluding federal holidays. The New York City Coalition Against Hunger, which operates the federally funded hot line, recently launched a coast-to-coast campaign to increase awareness of the service.

The service can help people find food pantries, soup kitchens, and access to food stamps, the coalition said.

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One in nine Massachusetts residents live in households that can’t always afford food, according to a recent study by the US Department of Agriculture, the coalition said.

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The hot line has existed since the 1990s, according to Joel Berg, executive director of the coalition.

“A lot of those folks know that there is help in their community,” Berg said. “But they don’t know how they can get it.”

The hot line staff connects callers with government or private food providers within their communities.

During the summer months, the hot line provides information about meal sites where children 18 years old or younger can get free meals through the Agriculture Department’s Summer Food Service Program.

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“Unfortunately, like much of the rest of the country, there are still many, many people struggling,” he said. “We want to make sure that anyone who needs help knows where to get it.”

Rebecca Fiore can be reached at rebecca.fiore@globe.com.