The same nutrition program that provided needed meals to Montana students during the school closures this spring will continue to feed hungry children this summer.
When schools closed this spring because of the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s Office of Public Instruction (OPI) needed a way to provide for students who receive free or reduced cost meals.
The office turned to the Summer Food Service Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The school year is over but the food program continues and has expanded to include districts like West Yellowstone that have not had a summer food program.
West Yellowstone School Superintendent Kevin Flanagan provided his insight.
"The town of West Yellowstone has a summer recreation program for kids up to 12 year old, five to 12 years old. And so we are partnering with the town to provide lunches for them. So they will call us in the morning and give us a count and we’ll provide those lunches for them through this program. Kids who are not aren’t in the program, the summer rec program, they can still come and pick them up at the school as well," Flanagan said.
West Yellowstone will be one of some 300 sites around Montana this summer providing free meals.
Parents can locate the nearest site by either texting the word FOOD to 877, 877 or check the USDA website.
The summer food program is open to any child age 18 or unde and is free, says Kim Lloyd, summer food program manager for OPI.
"This is just a fun way for kids to get out into their community, receive a free meal and is open to everyone, regardless of income or current financial status. Even if you don’t feel like you need it, it is a good way for kids to get out and get their meals too," Lloyd said.