Area summer meal programs prepare to keep students fed this season

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 5:29 PM CDT
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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - It takes a lot to prepare hundred to thousands of meals for the most vulnerable students in the area. But despite any challenges that come along, various programs throughout Eastern Iowa still make being able to provide a priority.

One program, Feeding Lunches to Youth (FLY) with Marion Methodist Church, is gearing up for an especially busy season.

With federal waivers allowing free school lunch for all kids to end this summer, they made sure they started preparing as early as possible.

“We actually work the whole year-round,” said FLY Director Gonzalo Santillan. “Just planning, recruiting volunteers, hiring interns and different people that help everything come together.”

And they’re not the only ones expecting an increase in service this summer. Cedar Rapids Community School District’s free summer meals program served nearly 60,000 meals last summer.

Both programs do not require enrollment, just the requirement of being 18 years old or younger.

“Our mission is really to provide lunches during the summer for those students who may be experiencing some food insecurity,” said FLY Board Member Joan Padley.

Both programs aim to feed those most vulnerable during a time that is supposed to be relaxing, but sometimes can be stressful.

“They rely on those lunches that are served to them during the school year and without those it really makes an impact on their parents budgets to try and feed them that extra meal every day,” said Padley.

To find meals for kids when school is out, click here.