Program provides free meals to kids during the summer

Published: Jun. 7, 2017 at 6:24 PM CDT
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Summer vacation is now in full swing for students across the state. One challenge many families face is keeping their kids full.

Providing three square meals in the summer isn't always easy for families, but there are programs that offer help.

One program, called the Summer Food Service Program, provides free and healthy meals for kids up to 18 years old.

The program offers free breakfast and lunch. It’s is offered in areas where at least 50% of children in a school district qualify to receive free or reduced meals.

“It's really helping to fill a need for kids when school is not in session,” said Kayte Parch, with the Nebraska Department of Education. “It's also helping to ease the financial burden for parents who are not used to extremely high food bills.”

Parch says any child who resides in an eligible area can participate, but the program is underutilized.

“We have about only 15% of kids eligible for free or reduced meals who are actually participating in the program,” said Parch, “so a small fraction of students are actually taking advantage of the program.”

There are many spots in Lincoln that offer the free food—including schools, recreation centers and mobile home parks.

There’s no need to sign up for the program. Students who live in eligible districts can simply walk in, grab a free meal and participate in fun activities.

To find a location close to you, text the word “FOOD” to 877-877. You’ll be asked to provide a zip code. Shortly after that, you’ll get a message back listing the sites that are closest to you, along with meal service dates and times.