The summer food program for children is expanding. Greater Mankato Area United Way C-E-O Barb Kaus says food insecurity can be a little less challenging during the school year.
“They know they can go there and have their breakfast. They can go and get their lunch. They can get some snacks. And know when they go home, at least they have that portion of their meals. And the next day it’s going to be there. Because the next day is relyable. They trust it. It just helps their day go much better. I just can’t imagine what their little minds are thinking when it gets to be the last day of school.”
And it’s frightening for children who aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from…or when.
“That’s a scary thing. Instead of them saying, I have the summer off to play, they’re saying, how am I gonna survive?”
The Mobile Outreach Meals program is expanding from six sites in Mankato and North Mankato to 13, nearly doubling the number of children that will have access to free lunches this summer. Salvation Army Captain Mike Parker says that’s thanks to a strong community partnership.
“Through that partnership, we can say that we’re able to meet with the children in a way that we never thought possible. That I never thought possible.”
Kaus says they also worked with area school districts, nonprofits, and others to identify where the need was greatest.
“It’s because we got all the players together that we were able to identify were the children not fed in the summer. And identifying the areas of where we needed to go.”
The public safety departments in both communities have also been involved, and will be at the meal locations to build and maintain strong relationships with the kids during the summer months.
The program served 66-hundred meals last summer.
Edited for web by Anthony Reinhardt