Here’s where to find free summer meals for Iowa students

Here’s where to find free summer meals for Iowa students

By Good Info News Wire

July 9, 2024

More than 530 sites across Iowa serve students free and healthy summer meals and snacks while school is out.

The Iowa Department of Education announced that more than 530 sites are operating across Iowa this summer, serving free, nutritious meals to children across the state through summer meal programs. This year there are 124 new summer meal sites across the state, including 61 new sites recently awarded a competitive grant to open locations in areas not previously served.

However, Gov. Kim Reynolds could have fed a lot more Iowa children than that: She declined $29 million in federal funds, in part because she wrongly believed the program made kids fat. Now, food banks are straining to keep up with the need, with little help from the state.

But while Iowans keep pressuring Reynolds to change her mind, here’s how you can get your children fed in Iowa right now.

Read: Find Iowa’s Free Children’s Meal Sites for Summer 2023

What is the summer meals program?

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

“These summer meal programs help ensure children in low-income areas who rely on school meals during the school year don’t go hungry during the summer months,” said Kala Shipley, bureau chief for 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 support even more children with meal sites in previously underserved areas.”

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

These summer meal programs, which were recently expanded in previously unserved areas by Iowa’s Summer Meal Expansion Grant, help ensure children continue to receive nutritious snacks and meals during summer break from school when they don’t have access to school breakfast or lunch. Meals are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.

How to find locations serving free summer meals

According to the Department of Education press release, there are a few different ways to find summer meal spots near you:

  • 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.Here's where to find free summer meals for Iowa studentsHere's where to find free summer meals for Iowa students

This story was generated in part by AI and edited by Courier Newsroom staff.

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