MADISON (WKOW) – Starting Monday, children can get free meals at several Madison locations throughout the summer.
Organizers say this year they're offering more food at more places to meet an increasing need.
"No kid should go hungry, no kid. They need it. They need that energy," says Kesha Evans.
Evans says she works with the Madison Metropolitan School District as a special education assistant, and she also has two sons of her own using the food service program.
Dozens of kids got a free breakfast and lunch Monday at the Allied Learning Center on Allied Drive.
Monday is the first day of a federally-funded summer food service open to anyone 18 years old or younger.
"They don't need to register. They don't need any identification to come and receive a meal," says Iris Tirado-Noonan, MMSD Food Service Coordinator.
She says they don't even have to live in the Madison district.
James Madison Memorial and East High Schools are offering meals for the first time this year. Tirado-Noonan says that's because it's sometimes tougher to get the older kids to take advantage of it.
"It was a challenge to get high school kids to get up 15 minutes early for breakfast," she says.
But this year the need is too great to not give it a try.
She says the district went from offering food at about 30 sites last year to closer to 40 this year and from serving 3,200 children to an expected 4,000.
"It's still not enough, not when the school district has over 10,000 qualify for free or reduced meals, which is one of measurements to know where the need is for food security," she says.
Evans says it would be tough for her family without the summer program.
"It's pretty helpful. It's really helpful because I do run short at the end of the month, really short," Evans says. "I am grateful for the [Allied Learning Center]."
The program takes place Monday-Friday from June 18-August 17.
No meals will be served on Wednesday, July 4.
See the list of locations below:
Sites new this year include:
Summer School Sites/MSCR SREC (Breakfast & Lunch)
MSCR Camps & Parks Sites (meals vary per location)
MSCR Safe Haven Child Care Sites (Lunch & Snack)
Apartments/Community Centers (meals vary per location)
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