More than 1,200 children are receiving nutritious lunches daily during the summer months as part of the Meals on Wheels People’s popular Meals 4 Kids program. Launched in late June as part of a contract with USDA and a new partnership with PepsiCo’s Food For Good program and Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon, the summer meals program provides lunches to Portland’s food insecure children at 15 locations throughout the Portland area.
More than 21 million children in the U.S. rely on free and reduced-priced meals at school, and food insecure children are at higher risk of hunger when they are out of school in the summer. To address this need, Meals 4 Kids offers an expanded summertime lunch service for children and families who have a hard time affording nutritious meals.
“The Meals 4 Kids summer lunch program helps to fill the gap when the USDA free and reduced lunch program that operates during the school year is not available,” said Meals 4 Kids Director Jessica Morris. “We’re honored that the USDA Summer Food Service Program contracted with Meals 4 Kids to further reduce food insecurity by serving areas where need is not being met currently.
This program has been meeting the nutritional needs of some of Portland’s most food insecure families for more than five years. The home-delivery program, funded by the Portland Children’s Levy, provides a week’s worth of dinners, along with fresh fruit, bread and milk to participating children and their caregivers throughout the year.
The Meals 4 Kids summer lunch program is made possible by additional grants from the Oregon Department of Education, Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon and PepsiCo’s Food For Good program, whose funding has covered the lease of a delivery van, the employment of five AmeriCorps members and initial program startup costs.
“Hunger is often not only a problem of food scarcity but one of logistics, and we’re glad to be able to bring PepsiCo’s delivery and distribution know-how and experience fighting hunger around the country to help address this need in Portland,” said Matt Smith, Director of PepsiCo’s Food for Good program. “It’s critical that students have access to nutritious food while school is not in session, and we thank Meals on Wheels People and Meals 4 Kids for their partnership this summer.”
“Our goal with the Meals 4 Kids program is to ensure that vulnerable children and their families have sufficient daily nutrition,” said Jessica. “Without access to free and reduced lunch program during the summer, many of these kids would go hungry during the day. Thanks to our partnership with USDA and the Oregon Department of Education, we will be able to continue to provide nutritious meals for these kids over the summer.”
Two of the locations served by the Meals 4 Kids summer program attract more than 50 children on weekdays: Midland Library at 805 SE 122nd and the Meals on Wheels People Two Rivers Center at 9009 N Foss.
About Meals on Wheels People: Meals on Wheels People has been changing lives, one meal at a time, since 1970. We serve and deliver 5,000 nutritious meals every weekday to older adults throughout Multnomah, Washington and Clark counties. But we provide more than a meal to thousands of older adults in the greater Portland metro area. Our service not only alleviates hunger and social isolation, but allows seniors to live independently with dignity in their own homes. Aging in place reduces depression, falls and hospitalization as well as the high cost of institutional care. For more information, visit: mowp.org.
About PepsiCo Food For Good: Food for Good works with non-profit partners to identify and implement cost-effective and efficient solutions to reach those in need. Food for Good is the signature nutrition operation of the PepsiCo Foundation and critical to its mission of helping alleviate hunger around the world. Through the unique model of a purpose-driven initiative, Food for Good has delivered more than 25 million nutritious meals since 2009. For more information, please visit: http://www.pepsicofoodforgood.com/