What is Meet Up and Chow Down?
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.
Meet Up and Chow Down is in need of volunteers the following days and locations:
- Tuesdays at Virginia Olcott Park
- Tuesdays at Virginia HRA
- Wednesdays at Virginia HRA
- Thursdays at Hibbing HRA
- Thursdays at Virginia HRA
Due to the size of our service area and staff, UWNEMN is unable to staff these sites throughout the summer with the help of volunteers; we NEED your help!
Want to volunteer? 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. 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?
Contact Community Impact and Engagement Coordinator Michelle Lampton at 218-254-3329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.