Few kids take advantage of summer meal programs despite the large need

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ROCK ISLAND---School may be out for the summer but the food keeps coming.

Rock Island High School is the one of many school districts in the Quad Cities that offers free breakfast and lunch for kids 18 years old and under.

In the Rock Island and Milan School District more than 4,000 students qualify for free and reduced lunch, however only around 75 students take advantage of the summer meal program.

“Our numbers have increased already with breakfast and lunch. All of our students receive breakfast and lunch throughout the school year, so we're still trying to bring in more students," says Beth MacKenna, Director of Nutrition Services for the Rock Island and Milan School District.

The River Bend Foodbank is also reaching out to kids through the summer, it now has a summer meal site for all 22 counties they serve. However they are seeing a similar trend in the number of young people who take advantage of local summer meal programs.

"That's the great mystery of hunger relief is where are those kids and why are they not getting fed? The best we can tell is that they're stuck at home and can't leave their parents maybe at work and the child may not be able to leave the house when the child is not there," says Mike Miller, executive director of the River Bend Foodbank.

Miller says one in five students in both Scott and Rock Island county go hungry and only a small percent of them go to their local meal sites during the summer.

"We can't take the food to the child, summer feeding requires the child to be at the site. (The community needs to) be aware maybe there's a neighbor or somebody you know where the child needs a ride and we can provide them with that."

Click here to find a local summer food program.


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