The app, called Summer Eats Minnesota, is free at the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Powered by GPS, it shows locations of summer food sites, their menus (as available) and days and hours of operation. Kids 18 and under can show up without prior signup for free meals at these open site locations, including park and recreation sites, community centers, libraries and schools. The app shows the distance and directions to the nearest sites.
"Summer can be a difficult time for kids because they don't get regular school meals," said Ellie Lucas, CEO of Hunger Impact Partners. "This app is an easy way to find free summer meals, and we hope everyone – both children and adults – will download Summer Eats Minnesota so it will be available around mealtimes. We developed the app in partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minnesota Department of Education so we could reach more children throughout the summer months."
"Hunger does not take a vacation in the summer; knowing where to find a healthy meal is so crucial for so many of our families while school is out," said Bertrand Weber, Culinary and Wellness Services Director of Minneapolis Public Schools. "This app will provide families and students the location of available meals near them, the menu and time of service. The summer menu is designed to provide a healthy blend of kids' favorites that incorporate whole grain goodness, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and milk."
Summer is a tough time for kids who have relied on nutritious meals at school, and many don't know how to access food programs. In fact, Minnesota ranks 23rd (in 2015) among 50 states in feeding children in the summer, with summer food programs operating at 43 percent capacity.
"This means that nearly two-thirds of kids in the state who are eligible for the federally reimbursed summer meals are going without," Lucas said. "We estimate there's a potential of 17 million meals for children in the summer, with an estimated $33 million in corresponding federal reimbursements."
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program administered by the state Department of Education. It reimburses food providers who serve healthy meals to children and teens in low-income areas in the summer.
For more information about summer meals, watch this video: http://hungerimpactpartners.
About Hunger Impact Partners
Hunger Impact Partners (HIP) is a nonprofit organization focused on nourishing children so they get a healthy start to life to support their academic performance and health outcomes. As a national model of collective impact for large-scale social change, HIP collaborates across sectors and communities to support and connect hungry kids with nutrition programs, including school breakfasts, after-school snacks and suppers, summer feeding programs and WIC, the federal supplemental nutrition program for pregnant women and their children. Started in 2015, HIP is the legacy organization of the Hunger-Free Minnesota campaign, which added 70 million new meals to Minnesota's emergency food system in approximately four years. www.hungerimpactpartners.org