Iowa Education Department Grant Boosts Summer Meals; New Summer Meal Sites to Benefit Iowa Children; Enhancing Child Nutrition: Iowa’s Summer Meal Expansion Grant; Nearly $900,000 Awarded to Boost Summer Nutrition in Iowa

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The Iowa Department of Education has allocated nearly $900,000 in grants to 38 local school districts and organizations to support the expansion of summer nutrition programs. The funds will facilitate the establishment of 61 new summer meal sites in regions that were previously unserved, enabling an increased number of Iowa children and teens to receive nutritious meals and snacks during the summer months.

 

These grants strengthen the existing nutrition programs funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the Iowa Department of Education. The Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option offer free meals to children and teenagers up to 18 years old, particularly serving those from low-income areas.

 

“The Summer Meal Expansion Grant builds upon family-focused solutions to support child nutrition and well-being in the summer,” said Iowa Department of Education Director McKenzie Snow. Recipients of the grants, which include both school districts and local organizations, will be able to use the funds for local food purchases, program outreach, and other operational expenses not covered through federal program reimbursement.

 

Last summer, over 1.6 million meals and snacks were served through these summer meal programs. “These two summer meal programs were created to help ensure children in low-income areas who rely on school meals during the school year don’t go hungry during the summer months,” explained Kala Shipley, bureau chief for nutrition and health services at the Iowa Department of Education. The new meal sites will join over 500 existing locations across the state, including schools, churches, community centers, parks, libraries, and camps.

 

The grants are provided through the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Award amounts were determined based on alignment with grant objectives, whether the sponsor was new or existing, the number of proposed new sites, and the needs of the children served. The grants will be disbursed on a reimbursement basis after the budgets of the operating sites are finalized.

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