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 2022, 12,023 Meet Up and Chow Down lunches were served at nine sites in Chisholm, Cook, 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.

12,023 free summer lunches were distributed through Meet Up and Chow Down in 2022

Thank you to all the volunteers, community sites, and kitchens that made the 2022 Meet Up and Chow Down program possible!

The program has ended for the summer. UWNEMN will begin preparing for the 2023 program in early spring.

Want to volunteer next year? 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 next year?

Contact Community Impact and Engagement Coordinator Michelle Lampton at 218-254-3329 or