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GRPS: District to Provide Summer Meals

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Grand Rapids Public Schools is hoping to spread the word that "hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation".  

The nutrition services department is once again sponsoring the USDA-funded 'Summer Meals' program throughout the city.  It’s free and is open to all kids 18 and younger. 

"We know that there [are] many students that are out there in the summer that are hungry, and need a nutritious meal. It’s a matter of getting the word out to them."

That's Jennifer Laninga, supervisor of nutrition services for Grand Rapids Public Schools. 

She says it’s critical to get the word out to families in the district that summer breakfast, lunch and snacks are available at more than a dozen sites around the city. 

She says during the school year, they feed over 12,000 lunches to those in need. That figure drops to between 2,000 and 3,000 meals during the summer, which she says means some kids are going hungry.

"This 'Meet Up to Eat Up' program is very important to the Grand Rapids area. It is a USDA-funded program  that allows students that receive the free [or] reduced lunch benefit during the school year to continue getting nutritious meals during the summer."

Laninga says in addition to residents just not knowing about the program, it could also be a stigma associated with free lunch. 

The end goal is for kids to not be hungry and to maintain good nutrition all year. 

Here’s program director Phillip Greene:

"We want the children to eat - that's the bottom line. And we want to provide this program to make sure that any student or person that has the opportunity to make it to these sites - that this food is available, it's free, and it’s nutritious."

"It’s vital that kids have good nutrition the whole year round," Laninga adds. "Not only does it help them in their educational aspects, but just all-around being a healthy person."

The program is now underway at numerous locations. 

GRPS is also partnering with the Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation department, where lunch will be served near the Briggs, Richmond and Martin Luther King park swimming pools. 

Lunch is free, and swimming is available for a small fee. 

To find locations, just go to GRPS.org and click on the nutrition tab.

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