Find free summer meals for Iowa students

Find free summer meals for Iowa students
Find free summer meals for Iowa students

More than 530 locations across Iowa serve free, healthy summer meals and snacks to students during school breaks.

The Iowa Department of Education announced that there are over 530 sites operating across Iowa this summer, distributing free, nutritious meals to children across the state through summer feeding programs. There are 124 new summer feeding sites across the state this year, including 61 new sites that recently received a grant to open sites in previously unserved areas.

But Governor Kim Reynolds could have fed many more children in Iowa: She turned down $29 million in federal funding, partly because she mistakenly believed the program would make children fat. Now food banks are struggling to meet demand, and the state is giving them little help.

But as Iowans continue to pressure Reynolds to change her mind, here’s how you can make sure your kids have enough to eat right now in Iowa.

Read: Find Iowa’s free child meal sites for summer 2023

What is the Summer Meals Program?

Summer meal programs provide free meals and snacks to all children under 18 at sites in low-income neighborhoods and help increase access to healthy food during the summer vacation period. With more than 530 meal sites in Iowa and more sites in the approval process, children and youth have access to meals in their local and nearby communities at a variety of locations, including schools, churches, community centers, parks, libraries and camps.

“These summer food programs help ensure that children in low-income communities who rely on school meals during the school year do not go hungry during the summer months,” said Kala Shipley, director of the Office of Nutrition and Health Services at the Iowa Department of Education. “Last summer, more than 1.6 million meals and snacks were served to children through the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option Site Sponsors, and we are excited to be able to serve even more children with food distribution sites in previously underserved communities.”

The Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by the Iowa Department of Education. School districts and local organizations manage and operate the food distribution sites located throughout the state.

These summer meal programs, recently expanded to previously unserved areas through Iowa’s Summer Meal Expansion Grant, help ensure children continue to receive nutritious snacks and meals during the summer break when they aren’t getting breakfast or lunch at school. Meals are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

How to find places offering free meals in the summer

According to the Department of Education press release, there are several ways to find places to eat near you during the summer:

  • Send an SMS with the text “Food” or “Comida” to 304-304
  • Call the following numbers:
    • 2-1-1
    • 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479), English
    • 1-877-8-HAMBRE (1-877-842-6273), Spanish
  • Visit the online site finder

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This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Find free summer meals for Iowa studentsFind free summer meals for Iowa students

This story was partially generated by AI and edited by Courier newsroom staff.

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