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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2013

Contact:   

Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391

Missoula Public Schools kicks off summer meals program for kids on Thursday

Free summer meals served at 5 sites across Missoula

Missoula Mayor John Engen, Montana Food Bank Network CEO Gayle Gifford and Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS) Food Service Supervisor Stacey Rossmiller, will help launch the free summer meals program at the Summer Food Service Program Kick-Off Thursday, June 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Franklin School.

Guest speaker remarks will take place from 11:15 a.m. to noon. The event will also include a number of activities, including Zumbatomic and face painting, and appearances from University of Montana football players and the UM mascot Monte.

Montana Office of Public Instruction, in partnership with Montana No Kid Hungry, Montana Food Bank Network and Share Our Strength® are working to connect more area kids and teens to free summer meals programs by raising awareness about the program and making it easier for families to get to a summer meals site.

"Our goal is to increase the number of children participating in the summer meals program by at least 25 percent," Rossmiller said. "We're working hard to get these kids to the table. We are confident that with our partners, we can serve significantly more children than last summer."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers free summer meals across Montana similar to school lunch and breakfast programs, except meals are free to all kids ages 18 and younger who come to a summer meals site registered through the USDA.  This summer, there will be 172 Summer Meal sites across Montana.

The Missoula sites are:

  • Franklin School, breakfast from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays
  • Lowell School, lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays
  • Russell School, breakfast from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays
  • Hawthorne School, breakfast from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays
  • Chief Charlo School, lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays.

The No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices reports that in Montana only 17 percent of children who receive a free or reduced-price lunch during the school year participated in free summer meal programs currently.

Lack of awareness about the program, stigma, and getting kids to a site that is near them and parents trust are just a few of the barriers families face, according to recent focus groups conducted by Share Our Strength.

“Summer meals programs are more important than ever before as families are struggling to make ends meet,” said Montana No Kid Hungry Manager Lisa Lee. “Families also face the stress of providing safe, supervised and affordable places for kids and teens to socialize, play and continue to learn during the summer.”

Many summer meals sites, which are registered with the USDA, offer fun learning and recreational activities so kids and teens can eat a healthy meal while staying active and hanging out with friends. Program details:

  • Meals are FREE to children and teens ages 18 and younger who come to a summer meals site. Just show up, there’s no paperwork! 
  • Food served follows USDA nutrition guidelines and is paid for by the USDA.
  • Summer meals sites are at schools, churches, community centers and other places that are safe for kids and teens to go to.
  • Many sites offer educational and recreational activities that kids of all ages can participate in so they can eat, hang out with friends and take part in activities offered.
  • Parents don’t need to apply to the program to get a free summer meal for their kids. They can just bring their child to a summer meals site in their community.

Summertime should be a stress-free time for parents and kids, full of food, friends and fun. Free summer meals can help. Families can learn more or find a site near them by going to www.mfbn.org/summerfoodmt or call 1-800-809-4752 or they can text “lunch” to 877-877 to find a site near them.

WHAT: Kick off for the free summer meals program.

WHO:  Missoula Mayor John Engen, Montana Food Bank Network CEO Gayle Gifford,
and Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS) Food Service Supervisor Stacey Rossmiller.

WHERE: Franklin School, 1901 South 10th West                                          

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guest speaker remarks will take place from 11:15 a.m. to noon.
Page last updated 06/12/2013