The U.S.D.A. is looking for some non-profit groups to open up centers where school kids can participate in the summer meals program. U.S.D.A. Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services says Kevin Concannon, says the summer program could help those who are in the lunch program during the school year. “In Iowa, some 359,000 Iowa students have lunch at school. And about..145,000 of those receive that lunch free or reduced price, based on household or family income,” Concannon says.
The over 100,000 that received the free or reduced lunch are also eligible for the summer food program. But he says they estimate only 14,000 students take part in the summer program. “That’s even less that one out of ten who had access to a summer feeding program,”Concannon says.
Iowa has some 260 sites for the summer program, but Concannon says they need more. He says Iowa has the challenge of being a rural state. “Those rural areas either do not have summer feeding sites, or do not qualify for them,”Concannon says.
He says they are seeking out new sites now in the spring as it won’t be long before summer is here. “They could be in churches, they could even be in public libraries in some communities — boys and girls clubs, county recreation sites. We’re open to a variety of different settings,” Concannon says. “And our goal is to increase the number of locations in the state, but also to get more students to participate in the program in the summer time.”
Concannon says they need sites all across the state. “If organizations are interested in sponsoring a site in their area of the state, contact the Department of Education,” Concannon says. Concannon is a former Iowa Department of Human Services Director. He says the program is very important in ensuring the kids get the proper nutrition during the summer. The U.S.D.A. pays for the food and its preparation and the volunteers distribute it to the eligible kids.