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'It really meant a lot to me': Parent describes the impact free school meals can have

"It really meant a lot to me to know that we had a community behind us and that we weren't forgotten about."

DES MOINES, Iowa — After Des Moines Public Schools announced Thursday they would be offering free meals for students through the 2022-23 school year, Local 5 spoke to a parent who says something as simple as a bagged lunch can make a huge difference in a child's life.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to provide," Kierra Harrison said.

Harrison believes programs like free meals are a part of why she is the woman she is today, coming from a single-parent household the program.

"For us, that was extremely crucial. Especially when we were at home, you're bored and had nothing to do ... to be able to go to the park and get a free meal and be with our community and be with kids we had never seen before, it was nice, it made us feel like we were part of something bigger," she added.

"We really just wanted to make this a community and just piece of the culture of who we are and what we do at Des Moines Public Schools," said DMPS Director of Food and Nutrition Services Amanda Miller.

Harrison explained it's more than just a lunch, but it sends a message that every kid deserves a seat at the lunch table 

"For me as a child to be able to have that provided for me, it really meant a lot to me to know that we had a community behind us and that we weren't forgotten about. And to do that by giving us a sack lunch every day, that's incredible."

It isn't just next school year when DMPS will be offering these lunches. Over the summer, they will have free lunches for students too.

From June 6 through June 30, the district will offer grab-and-go meals for kids from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In July, kids 18 years and younger will be able to eat at a school building during summer school hours. 

Des Moines Public Schools offers this summer program to anyone who is under the age of 18. Kids can grab lunch at DMPS sites free of charge.

DMPS Summer Meal Schedule

Grab-n-Go Meals

  • June 6-30
  • Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
    • Brody Middle School (2501 Park Ave)
    • Hoyt Middle School (2700 East 42nd St)
    • Meredith Middle School (4827 Madison Ave)

June 6-Aug. 12 Meal Sites (except July 4)

  • Monday-Friday, 10:45 a.m.-Noon
    • Brubaker Elementary (2900 East 42nd St)
    • Carver Elementary (705 East University Ave)(No meals July 4-8 )
    • Cattell Elementary (3101 East 12th St)
    • Crivaro Park, (1105 E Railroad Ave)
    • Hiatt Middle School (1430 East University Ave)(No meals July 4-8 )
    • Hillis Elementary (2401 56th St)
    • Jackson Elementary (3825 Indianola Ave)
    • McCombs Middle School (201 County Line Rd)
    • Moore Elementary (3716 50th St)(No meal service July 4-8)
    • River Woods Elementary (2929 SE 22nd St)
    • Studebaker Elementary (300 E. County Line Rd)(No meals July 4-8)
    • Union Park (725 Thompson Ave)

July 6-July 1 Meal Sites

  • Monday-Friday, 10:45 a.m.-Noon
    • Garton Elementary (2820 E. 24th St)
    • McKinley Elementary (1610 SE 6th St)
    • Merrill Middle School (5301 Grand Ave)
    • Morris Elementary School (1401 Geil Ave)
    • Park Avenue Elementary (3141 SW 9th St)
    • South Union Elementary (4201 South Union St)
    • Windsor Elementary (5912 University Ave)

Jule 13-July 22 Meal Sites (except July 4)

  • Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    • Findley Elementary (5912 University Ave)

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