Help ensure no child goes hungry during the summer
DES MOINES – In an effort to head off hunger, the Iowa Department of Education is seeking sponsors for a federally funded program that provides nutritious meals or snacks to children in low-income areas of the state during the summer months.
Summer can often mean the opposite of sunshine and fun for more than 200,000 Iowa children who, instead, face hunger. Once the academic school year ends, many children who qualify to receive school-sponsored, free and reduced-price meals may go without.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, administered by the Iowa Department of Education, aims to remedy childhood food insecurity by providing nutritious meals and snacks to children in low-income areas during the summer months.
The program uses local sponsors and partner organizations to manage summer meal services, also known as Summer Meal Meet-Ups. Sponsors and partner organizations have the opportunity to serve free meals to children 18 and under in high-need areas.
Typical sponsors include public or nonpublic schools, public or private non-profit colleges/universities, private non-profit organizations and camps, and local, county, municipal, state or federal agencies, with serving sites located in schools, churches, community centers, parks, libraries, housing complexes or camps.
To qualify as a site, the meal service must be either located in a low-income neighborhood where at least 50 percent of the children are eligible for free and reduced-price meals or must serve primarily low-income children. Once a site location is established, all children 18 and under are welcome to participate.
In addition, program sponsors across the state are interested in partnering with other organizations in the following ways:
- Organizations that have a connection to families that can help spread the message about available site locations
- Organizations that have summer child-serving activities that are interested in adding a meal service without the administrative and management responsibilities of sponsorship
- Organizations that can provide activities at current meal sites
- Organizations that have access to volunteers who can help serve meals, supervise children or provide activities at meal sites
- Organizations that can assist with providing transportation for children to and from meal sites
In 2019, program sponsors served 1,277,567 meals and snacks at 593 meals sites, representing a small increase of 12,741 more meals and snacks than the previous summer.
Program sponsors, site locations and partner organizations are crucial to meeting needs for families. Organizations interested in learning how to be involved are invited to register to participate in an informational webinar on Feb. 19 from 1:30-2:30 p.m.