Meet Up and Chow Down

Meet Up and Chow Down children and volunteers

What is Meet Up and Chow Down? Meet Up and Chow Down logo

Meet Up and Chow Down is United Way of Northeastern Minnesota's free summer lunch program for children on the Iron Range.  The program was piloted in 2016 in Chisholm; 1,680 meals were served.  Over the summer of 2021, 11,474 Meet Up and Chow Down lunches were served at nine sites in Aurora, Chisholm, Hibbing, Mt. Iron, Nashwauk, and Virginia. The program is provided through support from the USDA and Minnesota Department of Education's Summer Food Service Program. 

What is the Need?

More than 1,000 children in the United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (UWNEMN) service territory on the Iron Range are enrolled in the Buddy Backpack Program each school year. The UWNEMN Board and Staff recognized the need for a summer food program. School districts have also expressed a need for such a program in the summer, when the Buddy Backpack program is unavailable.

11,474 free summer lunches were served through 2021's Meet Up and Chow Down program. Host sites were Aurora Public Library, Chisholm Kiwanis Park, Hibbing Bennett Park, Hibbing HRA, Mt. Iron Public Library, Nashwauk Public Library, Virginia AEOA, Virginia HRA, and Virginia Olcott Park.

Meet Up and Chow Down has concluded for the year.

Thank you to all the volunteers, host sites, and kitchens that made this program possible!

Want to volunteer next summer? Here's what's involved:

Volunteers pick up coolers at a designated location in their community, transport coolers to Meet Up and Chow Down site, set up Meet Up and Chow Down signage, distribute and track lunches, and return materials to the pick up site for the next day's volunteers. All-told, expect about 1.5 hours/day.

The program is Monday through Thursday weekly. Due to COVID-19 all sites are “Grab & Go” style service. Children will not be allowed to eat on site. We are requiring that all volunteers wear a mask and gloves. These will be provided if volunteers don’t have their own. For ease in staffing we are asking that if you are able to volunteer that you select 1 day per week for the summer if possible. A basic training which takes about 30 minutes has to be completed prior to volunteering. 

Want to bring Meet Up and Chow Down to your community next summer?

Contact Community Impact and Engagement Coordinator Michelle Lampton at 218-254-3329 or michelle@unitedwaynemn.org.