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Nutrition Won't Skip a Beat as MO Kids Head Back to School

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Friday, August 11, 2023   

Many Missouri families struggle to feed their children while school is out for the summer and have been able to get breakfast and lunch at summer youth programs through the Local Investment Commission.

As kids return to school, LINC also helps get nutritious produce from local farmers to community homes so children can head to class nourished.

Joe Robertson, a spokesperson for LINC, said supporting children, families and neighborhoods with good nutrition is essential to building an optimistic future, and added that LINC is extending assistance beyond the school.

"At least snacks and usually even in-school meals for after-school times to kind of continue the support that families need," he said. "We continue these food distribution programs to the neighborhood, the communities. These things really help children thrive. It helps families build the neighborhoods and the communities that we imagine."

The Missouri Department of Social Services works with LINC and other regional partners to help farmers get help from the federal American Rescue Plan. Parents can enroll their children in LINC's before- and after-school programs by going to kclinc.org/enroll.

The 2023 Missouri Kids Count Data Book said 28.6% of children up to age 17 received SNAP benefits in 2021, down slightly during the last 20 years.

Robertson said programs such as LINC aim to drive the numbers even lower.

"Children who are eating good healthy foods, it builds their confidence," he said. "It takes the worry out of their minds, it's comforting and it frees them to be the authentic child that they should be and that we really want them to be."

The Missouri Department of Health's 2019 School Nutrition Fact Sheet cites a tie between a lack of specific foods, such as fruits, vegetables or dairy products, and lower grades among K-12 students.


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