Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa-- There are nearly 12,000 children in Linn County who take advantage of the free and reduced lunch program during the school year. But during the summer months only a small percentage of those children are eating healthy, nutritious meals despite programs that feed kids for free.
Last summer United Way of East Central Iowa dished up nearly 54,000 meals, which were paid for through a federally funded program. While that's more than double the year before, it's still only 6 percent of kids in need that are taking advantage of the free summer meals.
United Way is working to increase their partnerships to provide additional meal sites in the community.
For example, last year The Salvation Army joined with United Way to provide breakfast and lunch to kids in their summer youth program.
Before that children were asked to bring lunch each day, many would show up with nothing more than a can of peaches or a bag of chips.
Now that kids are getting two hot meals a day, those with the Salvation Army say it's made a big difference.
"It's a long day when you come at 7:30 and are here until 5. So to have a nutritious, well balanced meal, it really changes their attitudes, energy level, and makes it a more enjoyable day," said Lindsay Hand, Salvation Army of Cedar Rapids.
The United Way has a total of 13 summer meal sites in Cedar Rapids. All offer lunch, some also offer breakfast or snack.
Anyone under 18 is invited to eat, no paperwork or identification required.
Click the link below to find a site near you: