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Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has an online map of Missouri showing where you can get just that. There are more than four dozen sites in Central Missouri and 15 in Jefferson City alone where children can go to be fed.

It's a unified effort against hunger, which is a particular problem for children who rely on free and reduced-price lunches during the school year and needy families who live in food deserts.

The map can be found at experience.arcgis.com/experience/6f227b5862534b92a6d6ef91c9cbb903.

As we recently reported, Building Community Bridges began serving summer meals to children Tuesday and distributed 48 hot dogs with beans, other side dishes and desserts. The nonprofit also sent home snack packs with students.

All of the JC Schools buildings hosting summer school will offer breakfast and lunch to students at no cost. Those buildings include all elementary, middle and high schools, with the exception of Cedar Hill and East elementary schools, which are undergoing renovations this summer.

The schools are staffed with JC Schools employees who worked in the kitchens during the school year.

DHSS helps families in need through its Summer Food Service Program, which helps assure eligible populations have access to nutritious meals during the summer months. When school is not in session, the program reimburses community agencies offering the required continuum of meals.

Families without internet access may find sites in their areas by texting the phrase "Summer Meals" to 97779.

Meals are to be served to children 18 and younger or for individuals up to the age of 21 who are mentally/physically disabled. There's no need to register and no fees.

The state's Summer Food Service Program, in conjunction with numerous local agencies and volunteers, do yeoman's work in creating a safety net for Jefferson City children who otherwise would go hungry this summer. We applaud all that they do.

News Tribune

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