A United Way of Central Iowa OpportUNITY initiative helps ensure anyone 18 and under in our community continues to not only receive food, but nutritious food when they’re not in school.

Summer Meal Meet-Ups, a program offering free meals to kids and teens throughout the summer, invites anyone ages 18 and under to one of the many meal sites in central Iowa to receive free and nutritious meals when most schools in the region are no longer in session.

Meal sites are located at schools, parks, housing developments, and local organizations throughout Polk, Dallas, and Warren Counties. Summer Meal Meet-Ups provide activities, educational opportunities, and a free meal for anyone up to age 18. No application, registration, proof of residency or citizenship is required at any of the meal sites. Due to policy changes at the Federal level, meals will need to be consumed at the site during the Meet-Up.

Before the pandemic, more than 40,000 students in central Iowa qualified for free or reduced-price meals. With the continued effects of the pandemic, rising inflation, and supply chain disruptions, it’s anticipated this number will grow.

“Summer Meal Meet-Ups is part of United Way of Central Iowa’s OpportUNITY Plan to address poverty, with a specific focus on increasing access to food as a basic and essential need for children and families to thrive,” said Renée Miller, Chief Community Impact Officer at United Way of Central Iowa. “This opportunity is more critical than ever. Meals offered through this program help ensure children in our community continue to not only receive food, but nutritious food when they’re not in school.”

To find a meal site near you, go to www.summermealsia.org, call 211, or text “Food” or “Comida” to 304-304. Services are available in English and Spanish.


About Summer Meal Meet-Ups

Summer Meal Meet-Ups was formed to promote the Summer Food Service Program in central Iowa and is part of United Way of Central Iowa's OpportUNITY initiative. OpportUNITY unites central Iowa around addressing the many facets of poverty, including housing, food insecurity, transportation, childcare, and more. As a collective impact initiative, OpportUNITY is raising awareness of the barriers central Iowans face to achieving financial stability and other issues around poverty that are preventing central Iowans from thriving in our community. Fighting poverty together allows United Way of Central Iowa to engage community members through education, advocacy, and issue-based work groups taking action.

Topics: Essential Needs, OpportUNITY, Summer Meal Meet-Up

Luke Lynch

Written by Luke Lynch

Luke Lynch is United Way of Central Iowa's OpportUNITY Director.