ANKENY, Iowa -- Kids have a place to have fun and get a free meal in one community. Eight churches in Ankeny teamed up to serve a free meal during summer break, but that's not all the program offers.
The program providing the meal is called “Love Lunch.” Volunteers serve the food at Sunset Park in Ankeny on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays starting at 11:45 a.m. Ankeny Christian Church Volunteer Lugene Verploeg says, "I do it because I don't think anybody should be hungry, ever. And the church does it because learning doesn't stop when school stops and neither does hunger."
Everyone is invited, but organizers say the program targets families on the free and reduced lunch program. The goal is to help kids continue having nutritious food throughout the summer. Ankeny First United Methodist Church Associate Pastor John Wagner says, "By providing them that nutrition during the summer, we've found it helps them continue learning. It helps them to stay healthy, grow, develop. They might come back to school better prepared to learn again in the fall."
Businesses and individuals donate food and money for the meals. All lunches include a fruit, vegetable, milk and kid friendly protein. Tristen Tindrell, 9, says, "It's yummy. It’s like really healthy for us because they make healthy foods."
Lunch is followed by an activity and everyone is sent home with a nutritious afternoon snack. The program runs through August 13th.
Ankeny First United Methodist Church sponsors the event with help from Resurrection Lutheran, Holy Trinity Lutheran, Lutheran Church of Hope Ankeny, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Ankeny Christian Church, Prairie Ridge and Our Ladies Immaculate Heart Catholic Church. Businesses like Z’Marik’s, Tasteful Dinners, and Fareway South in Ankeny also provide assistance.
People can find out more on the Ankeny Love Lunches Facebook page or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can be sent to Ankeny First United Methodist Church at 206 S.W. Walnut Street, Ankeny, Iowa 50023 and designate the donation go to the Love Lunch program.