*This post has been updated with new additions and the most recent data from the 2016-2017 school year.
For many children in the state of Minnesota, meals at school are the only meals that they will have all day. According to the Minnesota Department of Health over 38.1 percent of kids receive free or reduced price lunch at their school, but only 17 percent of them receive summer meals from a program.
One of the Minnesota Hunger Initiative partners, Second Harvest Heartland, has provided a great resource for those looking for information on summer meal programs. Here you will find an interactive map where you can type in your address and they will show you all locations that are serving summer meals for children under 18. They have also added a special feature that makes finding meal sites even easier! Just text “Food” to 877-877 and you will receive a text back with the address of summer meal sites in your area.
Another exciting new addition coming this summer is the Metro Transit Summer Student Pass! Through a partnership between Metro Transit and Second Harvest Heartland, they are working to break down the barrier of transportation so children will be able to access free summer meals.
Last year schools and other organizations at 870+ summer meal sites provided almost three million meals to children ages 18 and under. If you have children who would benefit from a free healthy meal, or you know some that would, let them know about this opportunity. If you would like to learn more about the Summer Food Service Program you can go here.
Another one of our partner organizations, Loaves & Fishes, has a great Summer Meal Program dedicated to feeding children when they are out of school. On top of the 20 sites where they serve food at year round, they have an additional 9 specifically for children during the summer. What makes their program so unique is their focus on providing healthy food to the sites where their food is served. Because a portion of the food they supply is grown by them at their own farms, they have the advantage of serving fresh produce to the children at their sites. If you would like to find out more about Loaves & Fishes Summer Food Service Program you can visit their website.
With only 17 percent of children in need being reached through the Summer Food Service Program, there is a need for more locations that provide food for them. If your school or nonprofit organization is interested in sponsoring and hosting a Summer Food Service Program you can find information about that here. Let’s work together to fight child hunger this summer!