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Free meals available for children across southwest Minnesota

REGIONAL -- Hot grilled chicken patty sandwiches, baked beans and fruit was on Monday's menu at the Watland Park picnic shelter in Worthington. Kids 18 and younger enjoyed their free meal at one of seven Worthington serving locations as part of a...

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Incoming fifth-grader Dayanara Mendez (from left) helps her cousin, JohnCarlos Montoya Mendez, get butter for his bread while his older sister, Kathy Motoya Mendez (right), dishes up fruit Monday afternoon at the Watland Park shelter in Worthington. (Alyssa Sobotka/The Globe)

REGIONAL - Hot grilled chicken patty sandwiches, baked beans and fruit was on Monday’s menu at the Watland Park picnic shelter in Worthington.

Kids 18 and younger enjoyed their free meal at one of seven Worthington serving locations as part of a federally funded program providing children and teenagers in low-income communities with nutritious meals throughout the summer. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are being served this summer at schools and parks across the region so that children don’t experience major gaps in healthy meals due to school being on break. No pre-registration is required.

“We’ve got a lot of kids that when school is out, they don’t have regular meals provided to them,” said Ellie Lucas, Hunger Impact Partners chief executive officer. “We want them to be ready to learn when they go back to school.”

Following the same nutritional guidelines that schools do during the year, sponsor sites prepare and serve meals similar to those served when school is in session. Administered by the Minnesota Department of Education, sponsor sites receive 100% reimbursement through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Summer Food Service Program.

In Worthington, Independent School District 518 sponsors multiple sites. According to data provided by Hunger Impact Partners, approximately 64% of students enrolled at District 518 receive free and reduced meals. During the 2018 Summer Eats Minnesota program, 29,519 summer meals were served at seven sites across Worthington.

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Other towns across the region also hosted the summer meals program last year. Last year’s participating public school districts, their approximate free and reduced student population and the number of meals served last summer are as follows: Ellsworth, 46% free and reduced, 1,171; Heron Lake-Okabena, 41%, 1,115; Murray County Central, 27%, 2,273; Windom Area, 46%, 4,800; Jackson County Central, 40%, 3,207; Pipestone Area, 47%, 4,201; Mountain Lake, 52%, 4,489.

Lucas said she’d like to see usage of the free service grow exponentially.

There’s a variety of ways families can locate serving sites nearest to them.

One of the options is to download the free App, Summer Eats Minnesota, from the App Store. Using GPS technology, those who download the app can locate serving sites closest to them.

Individuals may also text “Summer Meals” to 97779 or “Food” to 877877 to find serving locations.

Visit summereatsmn.org for more information. All locations are open Monday through Friday unless otherwise specified. Most sites are closed July 4 and 5 for the holiday.

Area Summer Meal locations include:

Worthington Worthington High School, 1211 Clary St.. Breakfast 7:15 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.; Lunch 11 a.m. to noon. Ends June 28.

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Prairie Elementary, 1700 First Ave. S.W. Breakfast 7:15 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.; Lunch 11 a.m. to noon. Ends June 28.

Worthington Middle School, 1401 Crailsheim Road. Breakfast 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.; Lunch 11 a.m. to noon. Ends June 28.

West Learning Center, 117 11th Ave.. Breakfast 7:15 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.; Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Ends Aug. 2.

Armory Business Center, 225 Ninth St.. Snack 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Ends Aug. 15.

Millard/Walker Park, 1436 Dover St. Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Ends Aug. 2.

Worthington Area YMCA, 1501 Collegeway. Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Aug. 2. Snack 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Ends Aug. 30.

Watland Park, Evelyn Street. Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Ends Aug. 2.

Ellsworth Ellsworth High School, 513 S. Broadway St.. Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Ends July 26.

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Heron Lake Heron Lake-Okabena Elementary, 321 Stearns Ave.. Lunch 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Closed July 4. Ends Aug. 15.

Jackson Riverside Elementary, 320 Park St. Breakfast 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.; Lunch 11 a.m. to noon. Closed July 3-5. Ends Aug. 23.

Jasper Jasper City Park, East First Street. Lunch 11:30 a.m. to noon. Ends. Aug. 16.

Mountain Lake Mountain Lake Public School, 450 12th St.. Breakfast 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Closed July 1-5. Ends July 26.

Pipestone Pipestone Area High School, 1401 Seventh St. S.W. Breakfast 9:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Ends July 25.

Brown Elementary, 701 Seventh St. S.E.. Breakfast 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Lunch noon to 12:30 p.m. every day of the week (and Saturdays) but Wednesdays. Ends Aug. 16.

Hill Elementary, 900 Sixth Ave. S.W.. Breakfast 8:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Ends Aug. 16.

Southwest Park, 400 Eighth Ave. S.W.. Lunch 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Ends Aug. 16

Slayton Murray County Central Elementary School, 2640 Forest Ave. Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Ends Aug. 1.

Windom Winfair Elementary, 1454 Sixth Ave. Lunch 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Closed July 3-5. Ends Aug. 13.

 

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