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).