May 26, 2017 03:05 PM
For many students, life couldn't be better in the summer. But for others, the season leads to worry and anxiety.
"If you don't have food in your fridge, and you can't access it, and you don't have money in your pocket to purchase food, you're really at a disadvantage," Ellie Lucas said.
A new, free mobile app called Summer Eats Minnesota set to launch Friday could help.
It will help students and families access free meals, no questions asked.
Lucas is the chief executive officer with Hunger Impact Partners, a non-profit that works to get food to kids in need.
She said half-a-million kids in Minnesota are at risk of going hungry every day.
In Minneapolis alone, 31,000 of the 48,000 K-12 students are food insecure.
It's why Hunger Impact Partners is working with the Minnesota Department of Education and Minneapolis Public Schools to launch the app.
"They're going to see where they can go to get food if they're hungry, instead of going without, and when they show up, they're going to get healthy food," she said.
The app breaks down 80 serving sites across Minneapolis where kids can get free meals, the food options available, and a map showing how to get there.
"When students are hungry it causes them to not focus as much," said Tayven Smith, a 16-year-old Minneapolis North sophomore.
Smith has been researching the app for a school assignment, and said he would use it.
"I would, because I am usually out during the summer dealing with football, and we actually have a site right at our school, so after I leave football practice I can go right to our school," he said.
Once a food site is set up, the information can be uploaded almost immediately.
"We're the first in the nation, nobody else is doing this," Lucas said.
And it's ready and waiting to be used statewide, something the Minnesota Department of Education is very excited about.
"We can set up as many of these sites as possible, but if a student doesn't know where to go, to get those meals, they're never going to show up to actually get them," Department of Education assistant commissioner Daron Korte said.
"So to have something like this in their pocket, pull it out to see if there is a food site around here, that's exactly what we are looking for."
Hunger Impact Partners researched cell phone accessibility among youth, and found most kids do have cell phones.
Those interested can also text the number 877-877 for more information.
Updated: May 26, 2017 03:05 PM
Created: May 25, 2017 03:10 PM
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