1,000 boxes of nutritious meals distributed to 1,000 southern Minnesota kids

Over 1,000 boxes containing a month’s worth of child-friendly nutritious meals are being distributed to support 1,000 kids around the area.
Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 11:19 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2022 at 7:46 PM CDT
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NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Over 1,000 boxes containing a month’s worth of child-friendly nutritious meals are being distributed to support 1,000 kids around the area.

“It is important for our students throughout the summer. When they may not be in walking or biking distance of a school that serves free lunches, they may not have enough food to make it through the weekend, or their parents may be working two jobs while they’re at home all day on the weekend,” said Melissa Trent, program manager at Feeding Our Communities Partners (FOCP). “We provide easy to prepare, child-friendly and nutritious meals for students.”

More than 250 area volunteers are packing and distributing meals at no cost.

Around 80 volunteers use their personal vehicles, choose a route, and deliver the meals directly to the families’ doorsteps.

“The idea behind this is that there’s no barriers for a child to receive food,” explained Holly Dodge, marketing and communication manager at FOCP.

For the first time, high school students qualify for the program, so youth in grades K-12 can get free food. Yet for the program and its volunteers, it goes beyond food.

“It helps the kids realize that people are looking out for them and that people care about them,” volunteer Jim Hatleli said. “I think we’re providing a service that will help them have a better education and perhaps be a better part of the community themselves as they grow up.”

During the months of June, July, and August, the program provides one month’s worth of food. Each includes breakfast, lunch and snacks.

Thanks to partnerships with AOK and Open Door, they have been able to include additional items such as books and COVID-19 testing kits.

“We’re feeding today, but these are future leaders. I mean, these are the kids that are going to grow up and take over in these communities. And we’re just trying to break that cycle, break that barrier and make sure that they can access the food,” Dodge added.

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