COLUMBIA - With school out for the summer, children are able to get out of the classroom. However, getting out of the classroom also means getting out of the lunchroom.
Over the summer months kids who rely on free and reduced-price school lunches no longer have access to cheap food. The lack of affordable food has the Food Bank of Central and Northeastern Missouri calling the summer season the hungriest time of the year.
"Summertime is when all of these kids that qualify for free and reduced priced meals at school don't get them anymore," Food Bank development associate Rachel Ellersieck said.
The Food Bank helps alleviate the problem by offering free, healthy lunches at 25 sites in low income areas across the area. The balanced meals are meant to be like the ones the children receive during school.
"We offer a balanced lunch, so we provide a protein, grain, fruit, vegetable and dairy," volunteer Erin Vincent said.
The sites not only serve as a place to eat, but a place where kids can hang out with other children their age as well. Last year sites saw up to 30 children a day.
"The kids really enjoy the program, they enjoy coming out here, playing, being active," Vincent said.
Last summer the Food Bank served around 12,000 meals, and this year they hope to serve 20,000. The Food Bank will continue to provide healthy meals until school begins again in the fall.
For more information on the Summer Food for Kids program and how to get involved, click here.