Community organization make sure kids have summer meals

Dozens of organizations are hosting free summer meal programs; and Feeding South Dakota is distributing backpacks. (KEVN)

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN/KOTA TV) - Organizations across South Dakota are sponsoring free meal programs for children (18 and younger) this summer.

To find a youth summer meal program near you, go to summerfoodrocks. The site also helps people find meals across the country.

People can also get information by texting “Food” or “Comida” (Spanish) to 877-877 or by texting "Summer Meals" or “Verano” (Spanish) to 97779. Individuals may also find sites by calling 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479), or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (Spanish) (1-877-842-6273).

The food programs are federally funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A related food program is being conducted by Feeding South Dakota. The organization expanded the school year backpack program to fill a summer need.

According to Feeding South Dakota, only one in seven children who ate free or reduced lunch during the school year also have the opportunity to participate in a summer meal program.

Across the Rapid City community there are 13 USDA summer food programs; such as Rapid City Area Schools, Youth and Family Services, and the YMCA of Rapid City. Feeding South Dakota is partnering with these organizations to provide nutritious food packages over the weekends to children in need through the Summer BackPack Program.

“Feeding South Dakota is proud to partner with these organizations to ensure that children have adequate access to nutritious food throughout the summer,” says Jennifer Stensaas, communications coordinator, Feeding South Dakota.

A complete listing of where summer backpacks are available can be found at feedingsouthdakota.org/summerbp. Anyone under the age of 18 can eat free lunch Monday—Friday at these sites and receive a backpack towards the end of the week. Reference the listing for actual dates and times of backpack availability.