Lunch program delivers food to kids all summer

A child walks away with a bagged lunch

This summer The Salvation Army will deliver nutritious lunches to hundreds of children living in low-income neighborhoods, through a special program called Mobile Outreach Meals (MOMs).

Kids line up to receive lunchMOMs is offered weekdays from mid-June through mid-August in select Minnesota cities, where staff and volunteers will deliver lunch to kids living in trailer parks, low-income apartment complexes, and elsewhere. The program is a godsend to cash-strapped families who rely on free or reduced-price school lunches to feed their children during the school year.

If not for MOMs, some kids would not get to eat lunch every day.

A child receives a lunch“A lot of these kids don’t have parents around – they are on their own,” said MOMs coordinator Leslie Johnson, who leads the program at The Salvation Army in Mankato, Minn.

Johnson cooks the lunches herself every morning. Afterward, she and two staff members distribute the food outside two apartment complexes and two trailer parks.

Johnson said the most popular lunches include taco-in-a-bag, mac and cheese, and hot dogs with baked beans.

“This year I’m going to try a few different things, like chicken egg rolls, or tater tot hotdish,” she added. “And I might do meatloaf – we did that a few years ago and the kids liked it.”

Last year, the Mankato MOMs team served a hot lunch to an average of 50 kids per day.

“It is an important program,” Johnson said. “One time, a little girl wolfed down her food in five minutes – it was the first time she’d eaten all day.”

Children eat lunch in a parkA similar MOMs program operates in Willmar, Minn. It provides cold lunches every weekday at seven locations that include city parks, apartment complexes, and trailer parks.

MOMs is offered in partnership with the Summer Food Service Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Salvation Army has been operating the program for many years, touching the lives of thousands of children in need.

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