Area Summer Meal Programs Gaining Strength

Iowa expects to serve more than 1 million meals and snacks to 25,000 kids who are home from school for summer vacation. Twelve new sponsors have joined the program this year, bringing the total to nearly 200 serving food at more than 500 sites in communities across the state. Among the districts participating locally are Forest City, North Iowa, Belmond, Lake Mills, and Garner-Hayfield-Ventura.

In the Forest City Community Schools, the program is continued again this year and is called the “Food That’s In When School is Out” summer lunch program. Forest City Superintendent Darwin Lehmann says the program has been incredibly successful.

Forest City Community Schools Superintendent Darwin Lehmann

According to Lehmann, there are a number of menu items that are available.


Stephanie Dross oversees the state’s summer meal program and said any child under age 18 is welcome to participate. 

 Dross said being able to count on the meals takes the stress out of summer for many families. And for kids, the socialization is equally important – many sites host games and activities at playgrounds and neighborhood parks. 
Many Iowa school districts are adding more options for summer meals, according to Dross. Some, like Forest City, are making meals available for parents to purchase so they can eat with their kids. And since transportation to get kids to meal sites is a challenge in some areas, the summer meals might come to them.

She noted there are no requirements to qualify for the summer meal program, and any child can eat for free. To find a nearby location, kids or parents can text, “food” or “comida” to 877-877 and enter their ZIP Code. Information is also available at

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