Summer Meal Meet-Ups, a program offering free meals to kids throughout the summer, invites anyone ages 18 and under to one of the many meal sites in Iowa to receive free and nutritious meals.

Summer Meal Meet-Up’s is one element of United Way of Central Iowa’s OpportUNITY Plan to fight poverty, focusing on increasing access to food as a basic and essential need for children and families to thrive. Summer Meal Meet-Ups help ensure the children in our community continue to receive healthy food when they’re not in school. Right now, with so many kids more isolated than ever, this opportunity to receive food is more critical than ever.

SummerMealsLogo-1Meal sites are located at schools, parks, or other organizations, and site sponsors – or hosts – are approved by the Iowa Department of Education and will offer grab-and-go meals, as many school districts offered earlier this year. Anyone up to age 18 can receive a free meal. No registration or sign up is required. Children do not need to be present due to new USDA guidance. Unlike in years past, activities will not be offered nor will kids congregate at meal sites.

“Just as learning does not end when school isn’t in session, neither does a child’s need for good nutrition. Through Summer Meal Meet-Ups, each child will receive a free meal,” says Stephanie Dross with the Iowa Department of Education’s Summer Food Service Program. “It’s our hope to provide free nutritious meals to as many young Iowans as possible.”

To find a meal site near you, go to, call 211, or text “Food” or “Comida” to 877-877. Services are available in English and Spanish.

Summer Meal Meet-Ups is part of United Way of Central Iowa’s OpportUNITY initiative and is funded in partnership with W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Share Our Strength, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Earlier this year, Summer Meal Meet-Ups was awarded a $10,000 grant from No Kid Hungry from Share Our Strength – a partner since the program’s inception. W.K. Kellogg Foundation has been a Summer Meal Meet-Ups partner for the past three years, and recently awarded Summer Meal Meet-Ups with a $14,000 grant – more than double the amount in previous years – to provide additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Topics: OpportUNITY, Food Insecurity, Summer Meal Meet-Up

Renee Miller

Written by Renee Miller

Renee Miller is the United Way of Central Iowa's Chief Community Impact Officer.