As schools let out for the summer, tens of thousands of children could lose the free meals they eat each weekday, though sites across Iowa are gearing up to offer free lunches.

Schools, libraries, community centers and other groups can apply through the Iowa Department of Education to sponsor the week-day meals. Ann Feilmann from the Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services, says some places get creative to feed as many kids as possible.

In Davis County last year, she says a bus driver brought meals to rural children in a converted truck. “The kids were so excited to see him come,” Feilmann says, “and they also connected with a book program where they were able to get books to give out.” Feilmann says Sioux City is adding a bus this year. Last June, Feilmann says more than 25,000 children ate daily at community meal sites, adding, it’s not just for kids who are eligible for free-lunch during the school year.

“There are also households where both parents are working and there’s not someone that has high cooking skills, plus it’s also a place to go and socialize with friends,” she says. All kids are welcome. Communities throughout the state provide meals to children thanks to the federal Summer Food Service Program.

(By Amy Mayer, Iowa Public Radio)