FARGO — More than 33,000 children in North Dakota rely on free or reduced lunch programs to eat during the school year. But these programs stop during the summer months, and those thousands of students need to find other assistance finding food.
The Great Plains Food Bank’s Youth Summer Meals Program is offering free meals to food-insecure children this summer while they don’t have access to those school year meals. The program, which has been around since 2013, served 6,700 meals last year.
It offers either lunches or evening meals from one to six days a week depending on the location, and it's now set up in eight places in North Dakota, including two in West Fargo, five in Jamestown and one in Enderlin.
“We will always stay committed to the fight to end childhood hunger,” Program Director Nancy Carriveau said. “Our Youth Summer Meals Program along with our Backpack Program and School Pantry Program are integral to our ability to provide needed food assistance to the 38 percent of individuals turning to the Great Plains Food Bank each year that are children. We are thankful to all the champions in each community hosting a Youth Summer Meals site this year and helping us to do all that we can to ensure no child goes hungry.”
Through Aug. 10, kids can get free meals in West Fargo from 5-5:30 p.m. Mondays at Southside Park and 5:45-6:15 p.m. Mondays at Meadowridge Park.
In Jamestown, meals are offered 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with times and days of the week varying by the five locations: Nickeus Park; Leapaldt Park; Arts Park; Two Rivers Activity Center; and Stutsman County Extension. In Enderlin, meals are served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at First Lutheran Church until Aug. 27.
More information is available on the Great Plains Food Bank's website.
Youth Summer Meals is one of the food bank's three programs that focuses on child nutrition. The Backpack Program sends children home for the weekend with a backpack with milk, juice, snacks and food for three meals over the weekend during the school year, and the School Pantry Program offers nutritious meals from a food pantry at schools, libraries or parks.