- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 2, 2014

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - About 2,000 children in Sioux City are getting free meals each day through a program that provides breakfasts and lunches at schools and churches.

More children are getting nutritious meals through the Summer Food Service Program, offered by the Sioux City school district with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the Sioux City Journal (http://bit.ly/TDpqUC).

It’s the 12th year for the program, which expanded to five more schools this year. That has enabled organizers to provide food to about 700 more children daily than last year.

“We don’t want to see any kids go hungry,” said Rich Luze, the district’s food service director. “It’s a push to reach out and help all the kids and families that may otherwise go hungry.”

The meals are prepared in the district’s school cafeterias.

Luze said the increased participation demonstrates the need for the program. The breakfasts and lunches are provided Monday through Friday until Aug. 1.

Jacqueline Kennedy, a teacher at the nonprofit Mary Elizabeth Childcare and Preschool, said the program brings children to Irving Elementary to ensure they get a nutritious meal and to help prepare them for school.

“This gets them used to a larger elementary school setting and lets them socialize with their friends,” she said.

Server Julie Koetters said she enjoys interacting with children and seeing their smiling faces.

“It’s gratifying to work here because you can see a need for free and nutritious meals in some of these kids,” she said. “It helps me understand why I chose to do this for my career.”

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com