In the first six weeks of our 10-week program, we are delighted to have served more than 1,500 free meals to children in North Liberty, plus an additional 300 meals to parents and guardians, thanks to so many generous donations and volunteers.
Parents and guardians are offered leftovers after all of the children have had an opportunity to get second-servings, and sometimes there are enough leftovers to send home, too. We don’t want anyone to go away hungry. Our goal is to provide a free, healthy meal to all interested kids regardless of need, and also provide free meals to children receiving free or reduced-priced lunches during the school year. Those children may not have access to free meals during the summer.
Statistics from the five public schools in North Liberty show that last year, about 500 children in kindergarten through 12th grade at those five schools were receiving free or reduced-price lunches because their family’s annual household income met federal poverty guidelines.
We serve an average of 60 meals per day, although the number of guests can range widely, from 32 one day to 96 the next, making meal-planning a bit of a challenge! Still, our volunteers make it work every day.
Food donations so far have been provided by Red’s Alehouse, Zio Johno’s of North Liberty, Molly’s Cupcakes of North Liberty, Late Night Cake Company of North Liberty, and LD Express. Three church-group volunteers donate their meals as well, and other meals are provided thanks to cash gifts or the North Liberty Food Pantry, which serves lunch each Tuesday.
Activity hosts have included a butterfly expert from Forevergreen Garden Center, a gardening and composting expert from SoilMates, a yoga lesson by Sweet Feet Yoga, and a variety of balloon, bubble, or other activities. Staff at the library and recreation center host crafts and games on Mondays and Thursdays.
So many people are making this program come together! It is fantastic to see the joy on the childrens’ (and their parents’) faces when they see a favorite food or engage in a fun activity. Visit our Facebook page for photos. Our thanks to so many volunteers and sponsors.