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Summer Meals Program to Feed Kids

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--Several Linn County organizations are coming together this summer to feed local children.

It's part of a federal nutrition program aimed at ensuring kids don't go hungry.

About 13,000 children qualify for free and reduced lunch during the school year in Linn County, but in the summer months, they can sometimes go hungry and that's where the summer meals program steps in.

Lunch consisting of a chicken sandwich, fruit and carton of milk is no big deal for some families, for others though, it's a rarity.

"In the summer time, our food bill increases significantly. This kind of helps that out a little bit, said Lindsey Thompson, who uses the program.

Lindsey Thompson is a mother of six. She discovered the summer meals program last year.

"I was so excited. So excited. Jumping up and down. I was like, my kids don't have to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at home, she said.

That's the idea behind the program, looking out for families who can't afford a nutritious lunch every day.

"It's designed to fill that gap and allow those kids a place to have those meals, said Dave Loy, of United Way of East Central Iowa.

Numerous organizations in Linn County are working to expand access to the meals.

From United Way of East Central Iowa to Horizons and United Fire, 24 sites are set to serve lunches this year.

"Some of them are operated by boys and girls club, there's a couple that are operated by Jane Boyd, said Loy.

"It's very fun. It's a very rewarding program and very valuable in a lot of ways, said Dawn Stephens of Oak Hill Jackson Resource Center, which is why Thompson plans to volunteer at one of the sites.

"I feel that I need to give back. They helped me out. I need to give back, she said.

The program needs more volunteers to help serve pre-packaged meals for one hour each day.

If you would like to help out visit this page.
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