UWNEMN Meet Up and Chow Down program expands

 United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (UWNEMN) is excited to announce its free summer lunch program, Meet Up and Chow Down, has expanded to include a site in Aurora.

Starting Monday, July 13th, free bag lunches will be available to all children ages 1-18 from 12 pm to 1 pm Monday through Thursday at the Aurora Public Library.

UWNEMN had intended to expand to the Aurora area for the full summer, but the effort was slowed by complications from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to a high level of community support in Aurora, UWNEMN was able to secure a food vendor, site, and volunteers in just a few weeks’ time.

“COVID has made everything unpredictable, and with Aurora so far from our Chisholm office, we weren’t sure we’d be able to secure enough volunteers for a site there this summer,” said UWNEMN Community Impact Coordinator Michelle Lampton. “We were truly touched by all the support we found in the Aurora community for this program.”

Meet Up and Chow Down’s Aurora site will be fully staffed by local volunteers. The meals will be prepared by Essentia Health in Aurora.

“Last Spring, Essentia Health completed a Community Health Needs Assessment to get feedback on the most important health needs in the area. We learned that food access was a priority for our community,” said Essentia Nutrition Services Supervisor Carrie Mashuga. “We are grateful to partner with United Way to increase food access for youth in our community this summer.”                       

Meet Up and Chow Down is provided through a partnership between UWNEMN, the USDA, and Minnesota Department of Education’s Summer Food Service Program.  2020 Meet Up and Chow Down sites are: Aurora Public Library (12-1 pm), Chisholm Kiwanis Park (12 -1 pm), Hibbing’s Bennett Park (12-1 pm), Hibbing HRA (12-1 pm), Hibbing Lincoln Elementary (10:15-11 am), Mt. Iron Public Library (12-1 pm), Virginia AEOA (12-1 pm), Virginia HRA (12-1 pm), and Virginia’s Olcott Park (12-1 pm). 

All Meet Up and Chow Down sites will serve lunches “grab and go” style rain or shine Monday-Thursday until September 3rd. 

In an effort to keep our communities healthy, UWNEMN volunteers distributing lunches wear masks and gloves, and families picking up lunches through the program are asked to wear masks and to be cognizant of social distancing when waiting for their food. 

For more details on Meet Up and Chow Down, click here.