Pass the Word: Free Lunches for Kids

Free and reduced price lunches at school are very important for the growing number of low-income kids. But what do the 150,000 Iowa kids who get free and reduced price lunches do in the summer when school is out? The fortunate kids (about 9,000 in Iowa last year) get lunch through summer feeding sites.

The Summer Food Service Program, administered by the Iowa Department of Education, provides nutritious meals and snacks to children in low-income areas during the summer months. There are many summer food service program feeding sites across the state of Iowa; however, the program is still vastly under-utilized. The biggest barrier to children participating in the Summer Food Service Program is knowledge that feedings sites exist. This summer there are 16 new sponsors and 40 new sites in the summer food service program across the state.

The Iowa Dept. of Education has an interactive map that shows all the sites where any child under 18 can go for a free meal. You do not have to sign anything or show identification. You do not have to live near-by or even in the same county. The map gives contact information so you can find out serving times and dates.

Please help spread the word if there is a site in your community. If there isn’t a site near you, consider working in your community to start a program for next summer (contact Stephanie Dross at the Department of Education).

How much money do you spend on food each day?

This is a question I have been asking myself since I saw this blog, $4 A Day Challenge.  Stephanie Moore, a channel 13 (WHOTV, Des Moines, IA) reporter decided to take on the challenge of eating for $4 each day for a week.  Why $4?  That is the average amount a person receives for Food Assistance.

For some people, Food Assistance is the only money they have to spend on food each month.  That means that they have to budget to spend only $4 each day on the food they need to stay healthy.  Last June, this became an immediate need for many Iowa families when the Missouri river flooded, destroying their homes and their source of income (farms, job sites).  Over the past several years, many job sites have closed in Iowa, leaving people without income and needing Food Assistance to feed their families.  It is not surprising that the number of people receiving Food Assistance in Iowa has increased.

So, was the news reporter able to make it on $4 each day?  Yes, she was, and you can see more of the story here.  And, how much do I spend on food each day?  For my three person family, we spend about $5-6 per person each day.

Justine Hoover, MS, RD, LD

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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