A summer food program for kids is expanding, thanks to a $20,000 grant from a major packaged foods company.

Soft SkillsIn Columbia, Missouri, the Summer Food 4 Kids program is held at four sites in areas where there is a high need. Children receive bagged lunches when the stop by  one of the locations.

This year, the program is expanding, thanks to a grant from Conagra foods.  The $20,000 grant will allow for the purchase of fresh produce from the Columbia Farmers Market, which is then made available for free at small mimi-markets alongside the lunches.  Children who pick up lunches can also put together a bag of produce to take home with them to their families.

The produce includes blackberries, tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, green bell peppers, and apples.  Children also receive $5 produce vouchers for the Farmers market, and $5 produce vouchers for local grocery stores.

The program also gives away pool passes and ice cream, but those are not included in the grant purchases.

The program has been in existence for ten years, bridging the gap between the end of summer school and the beginning of the new school year, when school lunches are not available.  “I was a teacher for 31 years, and I had children who were hungry in my classroom,” said volunteer Cheryl Harrison, a former teacher. “This is the impetus for me to come on board.”

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