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'They do this so you’re not going home hungry': DMPS continues free summer lunch program

Summer meal staff at Des Moines Public Schools said the COVID pandemic heightened awareness of food insecurity.

DES MOINES, Iowa — For some students, the only time they see food on the table is during the school year.

To combat food insecurity, Des Moines Public Schools has offered free meals to students that are 18 years old and younger. 

Refija, the nutrition assistant for DMPS, has packed and hand-delivered the meals for 18 years. 

“We serve like 140, 150 a day," she said.

One of the students she served is Shataya English. 

"They do this so you’re not going home hungry," English told Local 5.

Summer meal staff said the COVID pandemic heightened awareness of food insecurity. 

“Nutrition is really important for everyone year-round no matter in school or out of school," DMPS Director of Food Nutrition Amanda Miller said. "So, we really saw an increase through the pandemic of people reaching out saying they were looking for our services more and more."

The meals are free and you don't have to be a part of DMPS to get one. 

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“So let's say you live in Council Bluffs and grandma lives here in Des Moines, we’d love for you to come and eat with us," Miller explained.

North High School is one of the busiest locations, but you can utilize services at eight other locations: 

  • Brody Middle School, 2501 Park Ave.
  • Callanan Middle School, 3010 Center St.
  • Goodrell Middle School, 3300 East 29th St.
  • Hoyt Middle School, 2700 East 42nd St.
  • Lincoln High School, 2600 SW 9th St.
  • Moulton Elementary, 1541 8th St.
  • Oakridge Neighborhood, 1401 Center St.
  • North High School, 501 Holcomb Ave.
  • Woodlawn Preschool, 4000 Lower Beaver Rd.

Aug. 13 is the last day the service is offered.

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