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The United Way of Central Missouri and Scholastic Inc. are stepping in again to deliver lunches to children while schools are out for the summer.

The organizations have committed to providing meals to students through the Food 4 Kids program. This is the second consecutive year for the United Way to provide meals.

The program provides nutritious food during the summer when school is not in session. The program is for children younger than 18. Each child receives one sack lunch per day.

"Food 4 Kids is a critical program that provides children in need access to food during July and August until school resumes," Ann Bax, president of the local United Way, said in a news release. "We are proud to be the conveners to make this program possible so we can keep children in our community healthy and continue to fill the gaps where needed for Central Missouri."

The program last year provided 1,350 meals to children over about four weeks. (The Jefferson City School District had extended its school lunches program longer than other summers because of the pandemic.)

This year, the Food 4 Kids program is about seven weeks — July 5-Aug. 20.

Churches handled the summer program for several years until 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic threatened the health of churches' elderly volunteers, so churches pulled back.

Sack lunches will be available noon-12:30 p.m. at these locations:

Intersection of Elm and Linn streets.

Apache Manor Mobile Home Park, 5101 Business 50.

Samaritan Center parking lot, 1310 E. McCarty St.

Intersection of Edmonds and Elizabeth streets.

Buena Vista Playground, 1020 Buena Vista St.

The meal locations at Buena Vista Playground and Samaritan Center are new this year, Amber Brondel, United Way marketing and events director, said.

The United Way also provided meals through the program at Building Community Bridges during summer 2020. The nonprofit, at 213 E. Ashley St., will continue providing meals to students this summer through a different summer feeding program — the Summer Lunch Program through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The Food 4 Kids program uses carefully identified locations, Brondel said.

"We've worked hard to determine the best locations," she continued.

She said the United Way anticipates feeding more than 80 children a day.

"Last year we did see a lot of success with children receiving food," Brondel said. "We believe this will be bigger."

As a little more incentive, a surprise will be included with each lunch handed out Fridays, she said. The surprises have been made possible through donations from community members and organizations.

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