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New app keeps kids from going hungry this summer

Hunger Impact Partners hopes it'll eventually be statewide.

Most times of the year, kids can get snacks and nutritious meals at school. So summer break can be a stressful time for students who depend on school lunches.

That's why Hunger Impact Partners, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit aimed at nourishing children, came up with a new phone app to help kids find free food.

It's called Summer Eats Minnesota, and it's free at the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

According to the news release, the app shows where and when places will be serving free food, as well as what's on the menu. Kids 18 and younger can just show up and eat. There's no signup or anything like that.

"Hunger does not take a vacation in the summer," said Bertrand Weber, Culinary and Wellness Services Director of Minneapolis Public Schools, "The summer menu is designed to provide a healthy blend of kids' favorites that incorporate whole grain goodness, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and milk."

There are more than 80 free food locations around Minneapolis, and Hunger Impact Partners hopes it'll eventually be statewide.

Feeding kids in Minnesota

When it comes to summer food programs, Minnesota ranks 23rd in the U.S., according to Hunger Impact Partners. The nonprofit notes that summer food programs are operating at 43 percent of capacity.

"This means that nearly two-thirds of kids in the state who are eligible for the federally reimbursed summer meals are going without," CEO Ellie Lucas said.

According to the state Department of Health, about 323,500 students in Minnesota public schools were eligible for free or reduced price lunches during the 2015-2016 school year. That's four out of 10 kids.

That year, two out of every 10 counties had more than half of its students eligible for free or reduced price lunches. Mahnomen County in northwestern Minnesota had the highest rate with 78 percent eligible.

The Minnesota Department of Education says schools send out information on how to enroll in meal programs at the beginning of the school year. It explains how you qualify and how to apply. Learn more about that here.

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