Free lunch available for Iron Range children this summer

The United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (UWNEMN) has expanded its free summer lunch program to nine sites to better serve area children.

 

Meet Up and Chow Down was piloted in 2016 when UWNEMN Board of Directors urged the organization to look into programming options to help the hundreds of children receiving Buddy Backpacks for supplemental food on the weekends during the school year have access to food during the summer months. That first year, 1,680 lunches were provided in Chisholm alone.

 

The program, open to all children ages one to 18 regardless of income, has grown each year since then, and this summer Meet Up and Chow Down will be available at the most sites ever.

 

“Nearly half of our Iron Range children are eligible for free or reduced school lunches,” said UWNEMN Executive Director Shelley Valentini. “When school is out, it is critically important that these children still have access to nutritious food.”

 

To ensure meals meet nutritional standards, Meet Up and Chow Down is provided through the USDA and Minnesota Department of Education’s Summer Food Service Program. Most Meet Up and Chow Down locations will start serving free lunches on Monday, June 3rd.

 

COMMUNITY

ADDRESS

TIME

DAYS OF SERVICE

Chisholm

Kiwanis Park

2 East Lake Street

12:30pm – 1:30pm

Monday - Thursday

Ely

Ely Recreation Center

1034 Main Street

12:00pm – 1:00pm

Monday - Thursday

Hibbing

Bennett Park

520 E 13th Street

12:00pm – 1:00pm

Monday - Thursday

Hibbing

Hibbing HRA

3115 7th Ave E

12:00pm – 1:00pm

Monday - Thursday

 

In Mountain Iron, Nashwauk, and Virginia, Meet Up and Chow Down sites will not open until June 10th, as those schools are in session one week longer than other Range schools.

COMMUNITY

ADDRESS

TIME

DAYS OF SERVICE

Mountain Iron

Mountain Iron Public Library

5742 Mountain Avenue

12:00pm – 1:00pm

Monday - Thursday

Nashwauk

Nashwauk Public Library

400 2nd Street

12:00pm – 1:00pm

Monday - Thursday

Virginia

Virginia AEOA

702 S 3rd Ave. W

Lunch: 12:00 pm – 1 pm

Monday - Thursday

Virginia

Virginia HRA

442 Pine Mill Court

Lunch: 12:00 pm – 1 pm

Monday - Thursday

Virginia

Kline Cuppoletti Park Facility

110 North 9th Avenue

Activities: 11:00am–2:00pm

Lunch: 11:30am–12:30pm

Monday - Friday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Virginia sites will provide free lunch Monday through Thursday, though the Kline Cuppoletti Park site is considered a “Recharged” site and will have expanded days and also offer daily activities. 

 

Through a partnership with the Recharge the Range economic development initiative and Mesabi Family YMCA, the Meet Up and Chow Down Recharged program will provide lunch Monday through Friday and will also include activities daily such as swimming, canoeing/kayaking, paddle boarding, log rolling, games, soccer, arts & crafts, and much more.  The Recharged program is also partnering with the University of Minnesota Extension to provide community gardening and nutrition education, as well as involving the children in the local Farmer’s Market.

 

Michelle Lampton, UWNEMN Community Impact Coordinator, said she is excited to see the Meet Up and Chow Down program expand.

 

“The UWNMEN and our local communities are united against childhood hunger,” she said. “UWNEMN and our Meet Up and Chow Down partners all share the same goal to ensure Iron Range children are nourished and energized this summer.”

 

For more details on Meet Up and Chow Down, visit www.unitedwaynemn.org/meet-and-chow-down.