Free meals for kids: La Crosse summer lunch program to resume in June

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — La Crosse’s summer lunch programs are starting back up again in early June.

This is all made possible by the La Crosse School District, YMCA, The Salvation Army of La Crosse County and Gundersen Health System in a community collaboration to keep kids healthy.

“During the school year, many of the students rely on the school meals,” said Kadie Haug, a nutrition specialist at the school district. “By providing a summer program, we are able to fill any hunger gaps that might exist during the summer months.

“I know our staff is excited about being able to interact with the students a little bit more this summer,” she said.

Ten schools across town will open their cafeterias for breakfast and lunch for anyone under 18. This year, lunches will be enjoyed on site rather than being picked up.

“They can just go on our sites, get breakfast and/or lunch at the specific times of day, enjoy it on-site and come back again tomorrow,” Haug said.

Meals will also be available for kids at Gundersen’s La Crosse campus between 6:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday from June 6 until Aug. 26.

“There has been an increased demand for food, especially during the pandemic. So this is our way of giving back to the community,” said Sara Ashbeck, a clinical operations director at Gundersen. “We feel that this is part of our mission to improve the health of the community.”

La Crosse’s YMCA is also stepping in with dining locations with help from the Salvation Army. Y staff will be at multiple parks throughout La Crosse every weekday this summer with meals for kids of all ages. They are offering more than just meals, too.

“We’ll be encouraging kids and families to stay and play and have activities to do in the afternoon,” said Jennie Melde, youth development director at the YMCA. “We want to just help those kids who wouldn’t have access to food during the summer that they would during the school year.”

The YMCA’s list of locations and times will be released this week.

Most of the programs will run through mid-August. Doors will be open at most locations Monday through Friday.

La Crosse’s meal program is below:

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