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Meals 4 Kids picks up where school districts leave off, offering lunches at various locations. Text 'Food' to 877-877.

No kid should go hungry this summer.

Kids throughout Portland often rely on school meals, but when school lets out for summer, access to nutritional food can lapse for many families.

PHOTO COURTESY OF SUMMER MEALS OREGON - A preschooler enjoys an apple courtesy of a Summer Food Service Program. This summer, a Meals 4 Kids program will feed children at Portland parks, the Midland Library and various Home Forward locations.Children and teens now can take advantage of summer meal programs offered via a partnership of Portland Parks and Recreation, Meals on Wheels, Home Forward and other community organizations.

The meal program is free and open to everyone. No registration is required.

Meals 4 Kids, a program from Meals on Wheels People and PepsiCo Food for Good Foundation, offers an expanded summertime lunch service for children and families who have a hard time affording nutritious meals.

The program kicked off Friday, June 28.

The Meals 4 Kids program already provides a week's worth of dinners, fresh fruit, bread and milk to children and their families or caregivers throughout the year. Now, community partnerships with Meals on Wheels People also will see about 1,200 sack lunches delivered to eight different Home Forward locations, six parks and the Midland Library each weekday.

"We are using our capacity to sponsor locations not sponsored by the school districts," said Jessica Morris, Meals 4 Kids director. "The sites are open to any child up to 18 years of age."

The program is funded with federal Department of Agriculture money, with additional help from the Oregon Department of Education, and Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon, to fill in the gaps for schoolchildren who aren't served by free and reduced lunch programs via schools during summer months.

"Our goal with the Meals 4 Kids program is to ensure that vulnerable children and their families have sufficient daily nutrition," Morris said. "Without access to free and reduced lunch programs during the summer, many of these kids would go hungry during the day."

How to participate:

From a phone, dial 211, or using a mobile phone, text the word "Food" to 877877, then enter your ZIP code when prompted, to receive a reply with the nearest summer meals sites.

More information is available at Summer Meals Oregon's website

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