By Associated Press - Monday, June 5, 2017

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Food vans in St. Louis will help provide free meals this summer to children who would normally eat breakfast and lunch at school.

Leaders of Operation Food Search plan to distribute more than 100,000 meals to hungry children in St. Louis and St. Louis County starting Monday and continuing through Aug. 11, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ( ) reported.

The nonprofit’s summer meals distribution is part of the Summer Food Service Program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program helps fill the gap between the last day of one school year and the first day of the next.

Operation Food Search Executive Director Sunny Schaefer said that about 15 percent of the meals the nonprofit gave out last summer were from food vans, a pilot concept in the city.

“What we saw last year is some of our children would count on us being there every day,” she said.

The buses will run Monday through Friday with more routes and stops this year. AmeriCorps members will also lead activities for the kids at each stop the vans make.

Schaefer said the idea is for children to associate the brightly-colored vans with fun and play, which may encourage them to show up for meals more often.

“We want to reach more children,” she said.

Stationary food distribution sites will also be open at various times throughout the week.

Data from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shows that more than 50 percent of students in Missouri are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches and nearly 90 percent of St. Louis Public Schools students are eligible.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

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