The United Way of Central Iowa is reminding anyone ages 18 and under of the Summer Meal Meet-Up program, which offers free meals to children throughout the summer. According to a news release, more than 40,000 students in Central Iowa quality for free or reduced-price meals, but only about 3,000 take advantage of the free meals during the summer. Officials said in the release that it’s believed those numbers have grown because of the coronavirus pandemic. “Summer Meal Meet-Up’s is one element of United Way of Central Iowa’s OpportUNITY Plan to fight poverty, focusing on increasing access to food as a basic and essential need for children and families to thrive,” said Renée Miller, chief community impact officer at United Way of Central Iowa. “Summer Meal Meet-Ups help ensure the children in our community continue to receive healthy food when they’re not in school. Right now, with so many kids more isolated than ever, this opportunity to receive food is more critical than ever.” Meal sites are located at schools, parks or other organizations, and site sponsors – or hosts – are approved by the Iowa Department of Education and will offer grab-and-go meals. No registration or sign-up is required. Children do not need to be present. To find a meal site near you, go to www.summermealsia.org, call 211, or text “Food” or “Comida” to 877-877. Services are available in English and Spanish.

Iowa Stops Hunger is a yearlong Business Publications Corp. initiative to bring awareness and action to food insecurity in Iowa.