Feeding America West Michigan launches kids food program

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Gather 2 Grow replaced Library Lunches to Go, which ran at 15 Kent District Library locations last year. Courtesy Feeding America West Michigan

A local nonprofit kicked off a new summer lunch program this week. 

Feeding America West Michigan on Monday, June 6, launched Gather 2 Grow, a summer lunch program funded in part by a $20,000 donation from Belmont Engineered Plastics. 

Gather 2 Grow replaced Library Lunches to Go, which ran at 15 Kent District Library locations last year. 

This year, Gather 2 Grow will offer free lunches to children ages 18 and younger, as well people with disabilities up to age 26. Food will be offered at 25 libraries in Allegan, Ionia, Kent, Muskegon and Newaygo counties and will include vegan and nut-free options. 

“Kids need food in order to learn, grow and have fun in the summer,” said Shay Kovacs, programs manager at Feeding America West Michigan. “Gather 2 Grow will take the burden off parents so they don’t have to worry how they’ll feed their kids when school’s out.”

In 2021, 50% of Michigan kids qualified for free and reduced-price lunches during the school year, but only 15% accessed summer meals through the state’s Meet Up & Eat Up program. Gather 2 Grow aims to make meals for kids easier to access by increasing options.

Feeding America West Michigan is aiming to expand the program to other parts of its 40-county service area in future years. The food bank also plans to provide educational resources in addition to lunches. This expansion is one goal of its recently announced Nourish Tomorrow campaign. 

Gather 2 Grow has a full schedule of available meals here.

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