Summer meals available for kids in Lake Elmo and Landfall

Cimarron and Landfall children home from school for the summer do not need to worry about where their next meal will be coming from, thanks to a program through FamilyMeans and Concordia Creative Learning Academy.

Starting June 13, free, nutritious lunches and snacks will be available at three locations in the east metro area: Concordia Creating Learning Academy in St. Paul and the FamilyMeans sites in Landfall and Cimarron in Lake Elmo. The lunches meet the summer meal guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act.

Hunger can be a major concern during the summer months for kids who received free or reduced-price lunches during the school year, FamilyMeans community organizer Tom Yuska said. Meals may be less frequent for children whose parents may be out of the house during the day or cannot afford to provide consistent meals.

“There are a significant number of students on free and reduced lunch in the Cimarron (manufactured-home) community,” Yuska said. “Those families need to provide meals over the summer that the kids would normally be getting at school. There’s a food gap there that we need to figure out how to fill.”

For the past three years, FamilyMeans Cimarron, located at 901 Lake Elmo Avenue North, and FamilyMeans Landfall, located at 50 Aspen Way, have had initiatives to help children age 18 and younger receive summertime meals, especially lunches, that they normally would receive at school.

“Before, it was always up to FamilyMeans to find funding, arrange mechanisms for making the food and organizing volunteers,” Yuska said. “We are just a recipient for the food this year.”

Concordia Learning Academy is the main sponsor of the program this summer, and the food is provided through a school lunch vendor, CKC Good Food. Yuska said that the meals come in the form of bag lunches, which is nice because they are “adaptable” to the Cimarron site’s facility, which does not have a commercial kitchen.

Children who utilize the free meal service are not required to prove that they live in the communities served by FamilyMeans Landfall or Cimarron, Yuska said. “Anyone can come get a meal - we don’t require any other information.”

“We had about 30 kids come in on the first day. With a new program, there’s always hope that the number will increase as time goes on and word of mouth travels,” he said.

“We’re happy that we’ve been able to find this partnership,” Yuska said. “It’s a win-win because it fills community needs and family resources aren’t stretched.”

The meal schedule at FamilyMeans Cimarron is:
• June 13-Aug. 30; closed Fridays; July 4 and 5
• Lunch 12:30-1 p.m.
• Snack 2:30-3 p.m.

The meal schedule at FamilyMeans Landfall is as follows:
• June 17-Aug. 30; closed Fridays; July 4-5; Aug. 16, 19-21
• Lunch 12:30-1 p.m.
• Snack 2:30-3 p.m.

Yuska added that the lunch and snack times are scheduled to occur before other FamilyMeans programs, allowing kids to come eat before having some fun.

FamilyMeans is a non-profit organization that functions as a place where people can go to “find help and work through challenges during difficult times in their lives.” It offers a variety of programs for families and children including financial services, family counseling and youth enrichment programs.

For more information, visit www.familymeans.org.

Johanna Holub can be reached at jholub@lillienews.com or 651-748-7814.

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