United Way of Central Iowa Adds Activities to Its Free Summer Meal Program

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DES MOINES, Iowa – United Way of central Iowa adds educational activities to its free meals this summer.

Meal Meet-Ups’ started in 2016 to offer anyone under the age of 18 a free meal during the summer. It is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.

United Way of central Iowa Opportunity Program Director Seth Johnston said the non-profit is working with programs like “Opportunity on Deck” to educate students while at different sites.

“You know the last couple of years we have just been raising awareness for these sites. This year what we are going to be doing is actually have activities at some of our sites. So, it’s not just a meal but you are going to get some educational opportunities as well too,” Johnston said.

According to United Way of central Iowa over 40,000 students in central Iowa qualify for free or reduced lunch programs during the year.

“And so this can kind of step in and hopefully help fill that gap of food insecurity. It is a free meal and these kids that might be a little bit weary of where they are going to get that meal can have a free one provided, a free nutritious one provided, for them throughout the summer,” Johnston said.

Johnston said only three to five thousand students utilize the free summer meal.

There are 50 locations that serve either breakfast, lunch, a snack or dinner. You can find a location nearest you, here. Locations are located in Dallas, Polk and Warren county.

People can also call 2-1-1 or text “Food” to 877-877 to find a free meal location.

On June 1st all families can participate in a kick-off event from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Chesterfield Park. There will be food and activities for the whole family to enjoy.

A second kick-off for families is June 8th at Grubb Community YMCA from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

There is no registration or requirement, but children need to eat meals on site.

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