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Caring for Kids through Iowa's Summer Food Program

The Sioux City School District has added a second bus to its mobile food fleet to ensure more children have access to the annual summer meal program. (siouxcityschools.org)
The Sioux City School District has added a second bus to its mobile food fleet to ensure more children have access to the annual summer meal program. (siouxcityschools.org)
June 10, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa expects to serve more than 1 million meals and snacks to 25,000 kids who are home from school for summer vacation. Twelve new sponsors have joined the program this year, bringing the total to nearly 200 serving food at more than 500 sites in communities across the state.

Stephanie Dross oversees the state's summer meal program and said any child under age 18 is welcome to participate.

"We know that, while learning doesn't end when school lets out, neither does the need for good nutrition,” Dross said. “And we know that children who are well-nourished in the summer return to school ready to learn in the fall."

Dross said being able to count on the meals takes the stress out of summer for many families. And for kids, the socialization is equally important - many sites host games and activities at playgrounds and neighborhood parks.

Many Iowa school districts are adding more options for summer meals, according to Dross. Some are making meals available for parents to purchase so they can eat with their kids. And since transportation to get kids to meal sites is a challenge in some areas, the summer meals might come to them.

"So, I think if you look at some of our sites this year, you might see some additional mobile feeding buses going out to apartment complexes, or out to some of the rural communities that make up a school district,” Dross said.

She noted there are no requirements to qualify for the summer meal program, and any child can eat for free. To find a nearby location, kids or parents can text, "food" or "comida" to 877-877 and enter their ZIP Code. Information is also available at summerfoodrocks.com.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA