Breakfast, lunch are served
West Des Moines schools use a bus to get food to one site in the city. A generator on board ensures food does not spoil.

With school out, the state’s Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option are in full swing. Across the state, about 45,000 students depend on meals provided at approximately 500 sites.

Breakfast, lunch are served
Carrots, cucumbers, green peppers, yogurt and peaches complement today’s meal.

In West Des Moines, food service employees didn’t miss a beat in setting up the program for the summer.

“Thursday was the end of school, Friday we trained and on Monday we opened for business,” said Willow Kriegel, the director of nutrition services for the West Des Moines schools.

The district offers breakfast which, on average, 245 students partake, and lunches, which average 650 kids a day. The district operates seven sites across the city, with an eighth one opening in July. Children from the ages of 1 through 18 qualify for the no-cost meals.

The programs, administered by the Iowa Department of Education, are provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Breakfast, lunch are served
The inside of this bus is designed to safely and efficiently transport meals to this particular summer food program site in West Des Moines.

All meals served in the summer meal programs must meet certain requirements in order to receive reimbursement. These meal pattern requirements are designed to help the menu planner provide well-balanced, healthy meals that meet the nutritional and energy needs of children.

“When school is open, we know that students eat,” said Stephanie Dross, a consultant at the Iowa Department of Education. “But when school is closed for the summer, many children across the state would go hungry without the programs.”

Kriegel said the food programs also ensure that the push to ensure kids eat healthy is a year-round effort.

Breakfast, lunch are served
Yum. All three said they loved their food.

“We try to keep them eating healthy,” she said. “Without these programs, many would be eating junk during the summer. And when they come back to school in the fall, they would be less inclined to eat fruits and vegetables. The summer programs ensure that they have access to fruits and vegetables during their break.”

Breakfasts at the West Des Moines sites range from scrambled eggs to breakfast burritos. Lunch includes three options – one, a hot meal (on one particular day it was chicken tenders), as well as sunbutter and jelly sandwiches (sunbutter is made of sunflower seeds and avoids peanut allergens) and yogurt and string cheese. Children also have a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables to complement their meal.

Breakfast, lunch are served
These siblings are eagerly awaiting for their food site to open up for lunch in West Des Moines.

“I have had people tell me that if it weren’t for this program, their kids would go without meals,” Kriegel said. “It makes it worth it. The program also keeps my employees employed over the summer break.”

There are three easy ways to find where summer meal sites are operating:

  • Text “Food” or “Comida” to 304-304
  • Call any of these numbers:
    • 2-1-1
    • 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479), for English
    • 1-877-8-HAMBRE (1-877-842-6273), for Spanish
  • Visit USDA Meals for Kids Site Finder at

Learn more about the programs.

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