Summer meal program expanding to serve more kids

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- Each summer hundreds of school aged kids in Eau Claire go without meals. This year, collaboration between college students and an area food bank hopes to change that.

The Feed My People Food Bank in Eau Claire has offered its Weekend Kid’s Meals program at a couple of sites for the past few years. Despite their efforts, the organization says many kids are still going hungry. That’s why they are expanding the program this summer thanks to students at UW-Eau Claire.

Suzanne Becker says in the last summer volunteers handed out more than 1,800 bags to students in the Eau Claire area.

“We knew that we are not reaching the amount of kids that we need to,” Becker said.

Becker says the bags given out last summer made a difference, but this year the food bank is ready to feed more hungry kids. That's where UW-Eau Claire professor Dr. Gary Running and a group of students stepped in.

“The question we answered was, how you connect those students to a place to get the food from when the schools aren't the place where they are going to congregate,” Dr. Running explained.

Running says students in his honors class started looking into how to expand the summer meals program. One of their first options to expand was the Parks and Recreation Department.

“We used to offer a summer meal program in the past so when we heard about adding that back this year we were very excited,” Dawn Comte said.

Comte with the Parks and Recreation Department says it serves up to 250 kids through programming each summer. This year kids signed up for the River City Adventures playground program will be able to get meals through the Feed My People Food Bank.

“There is an opt in option it will ask them if they want to be part of the program and they would accept or decline when they sign up for programming,” Comte explained.

Comte says the program will be offered at Flynn, Roosevelt, Mitcher and Sam Davey elementary schools this summer for any family regardless of income level.

In addition to the parks and recreation programs, the Weekend Kid’s Meals will also be offered at the L.E. Philips Library, the Hmong Mutual Assistance office and the Boys & Girls Club in Eau Claire.

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