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A summer food program for kids and teens will begin soon

food program for kids
pixnio.com

The Wyoming Department of Education will begin the Wyoming Summer Food Service program soon, which provides meals for kids and teens who may not otherwise have regular access to food outside of the school year.

“Almost all of the sites are open sites,” said Amanda Anderson, Nutrition Program Consultant for the Department of Education. “And it's a no questions asked type of system here. It’s kids com[ing] through, and we mark off meals.”

Anderson expects that fewer meals will be served this year than last due to decreased impacts of the pandemic. The number of meals skyrocketed nearly 10-fold, from around 591,000 in 2019 to just shy of 5.2 million in 2021. Reimbursements have also increased substantially in that time, from $972,426 to $4,253,733 respectively.

“They’re served [meals] through non-profit agencies, churches, and schools,” Anderson explained. “So, you know, parks and rec, Boys & Girls Club. Schools can create mobile sites or non-profit agencies, whoever can serve.”

Anderson added that each participating organization can choose how long they want to participate in the program in addition to which meals and the frequency that they’re offered. For example, this could equate to one location providing just breakfasts or lunches a few days per week for several weeks to another site providing breakfasts and lunches five days per week for the entire summer.

The Department of Education is accepting applications through June 15 to participate in the program and the start date can vary from community to community. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a map that indicates where sponsoring organizations are located and the frequency with which meals are provided, according to data submitted by individual states.

The program is free of charge to participants and doesn’t require registration. Those with questions can call 211 for a list of locations statewide.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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