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Summer Meals in Action

The Summer Meals program helps reduce summer hunger by providing free nutritious meals and snacks to kids and teens. Local organizations run summer meals sites at schools, recreation centers, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and camps.  Des Moines Area Food Bank is a local organization in their fourth year of providing Summer Meals to kids and teens in their community. In their first year, they operated two sites and since then they have grown their program to thirty sites in Des Moines, SeaTac, Burien and Federal Way! They will serve an average of 4,000 meals a week this summer to hungry kids and teens. In an effort to serve as many meals as possible, they started their 5-day a week program the day after school was out and will continue through Labor Day. As of July 20th they have already served 26,000 meals, making a big impact to reduce hunger in their community.
Each morning a group of dedicated volunteers and staff meet at the Des Moines Food Bank and make thousands of lunches and snacks to serve around the city each day.  Midway Park, one of their original summer meals sites, serves kids who attend Madrona Elementary in the Highline School District, a school that has a 94% free and reduced lunch population. On an average day, they serve about 40- 50 kids at this site. A typical lunch includes coolers filled with milk, oranges & apples, carrot sticks, turkey & cheese pitas and tuna wraps. To meet federal requirements for nutritious meals, each child is required to choose three of the four options available to them, but they are encouraged to take one of each.
In addition to nutritious food, the Des Moines Area Food Bank also offers educational activities at each of their Summer Meals sites. They are working with eight United Way of King County Americorp VISTA’s who are stationed at the sites to lead fun and educational activities with the kids. In addition to VISTA’s, local volunteers share their skills and knowledge. At Midway park, Joan Marie is a local volunteer who leads ukulele lessons. With funding from the Rotary Club and a discount from a local store, they were able to purchase a number of brightly colored ukuleles for the kids to play. At another one of their Summer Meals sites at Redondo Beach, they have a partnership with the Marine Science and Technology Center (MaST) of Highline Community College where kids can learn about the environment of the Puget Sound and local marine life.
Visit the Des Moines Area Food Bank website to find a list of all the sites they are serving meals or visit ParentHelp123 to search for summer meals sites around the state. Thanks to all the dedicated staff and volunteers who are working with Des Moines Area Food Bank and other similar sites to bring free meals to kids!

 

Tags: Des Moines   Des Moines Food Bank   food bank   summer meals   United Way   

Summer Meals: Free Meals for Kids all Summer

Q and A with St. Leo Food Connection Director, Kevin Glackin-Coley

Q: What is the Summer Meals program?

A: For the parents of the 467,279 Washington schoolchildren who receive free or reduced price school meals, summer can be a time of struggle as they stretch available dollars to cover the gap left by school meals. The Summer Meals Program helps by providing free nutritious meals and snacks to kids and teens during the summer months. Summer meal sites are located in schools, recreation centers, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and camps. The program begins at the end of the school year, and ends in the fall when school begins. All kids and teens (18 years old and younger) are eligible for the program, regardless of income.

Q: Why would a food bank operate Summer Meals sites?

A: At St. Leo Food Connection we run the largest food bank in Pierce County and one of the only food banks in the county that is open on Saturdays. Our Backpack Program provides two days worth of food on Fridays to more than 600 children at numerous Tacoma and Clover Park Public Schools. We know from the growth of this program that many children in our community are at-risk of going hungry. This sad truth is only exacerbated during the summer when school breakfasts and lunches are not available for many of the children who rely on them during the school year. Last year we served more than 700 children daily throughout the summer, but we know that the need is even greater. With the program expansions that we are putting into place, we anticipate that we will be serving close to 800 children on weekdays throughout the summer.

Q: How does the Summer Meals Program impact the community?

A: Parents and caregivers in the community are relieved to know that they have a safe place to send their kids for healthy meals during the summer. Last year a grandmother of several kids who attended one of our sites expressed it this way, “The Summer Feeding Program is really good for the kids because it gives them fresh foods and it is really hard to buy fresh foods on public assistance. Sometimes when a parent could not give their child snacks, they would keep their kids inside because they did not have enough snacks for all the kids outside. You feel bad for the other kids, but you cannot really help them. The SFP means food equity for the kids here at the apartments.”

To locate a Summer Meals site near you, call the Family Food Hotline, 1-888-436-6392 or visit the online search tool at ParentHelp123.

Tags: food   food bank   hunger   low income   summer meals   

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