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Free meals, nutrition assistance available to families

by HILARY MATHESON
Daily Inter Lake | June 13, 2021 12:00 AM

Free meals will once again be available to children 18 and under from June 16 through Aug. 20.

Kalispell Public Schools will be serving breakfast and lunch at different sites throughout Kalispell and Evergreen. No registration, proof of income or identification is required to participate.

Meals will be served on weekdays from either a blue, red, or white food truck, depending on location.

The Summer Food Service Program works to ensure that youth from low-income families and neighborhoods get nutritious meals when school is not in session. The school district receives federal and state reimbursement for the number of meals served.

For more information text “summer meals” to 97779.

Following are locations and times breakfast and lunch will be served:

Empty lot next to Old Navy, 2250 U.S. 93, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Evergreen Junior High, 20 W. Evergreen Dr., 11 to 11:15 a.m.

Sunset Park, off Three Mile Drive in Sunset Court, 11 to 11:15 a.m.

Empire Park, off Three Mile Drive on Empire Loop, 11:20 to 11:35 a.m.

Sheriff’s Posse building, Shady Lane Roller Rink, 11:20 to 11:35 a.m.

Hedges Elementary, 827 Fourth Ave E.,11:40 to 11:55 a.m.

Northridge Park, Northridge Drive, 11:40 to 11:55 a.m.

Elrod Elementary, 412 Third Ave. W., noon to 12:15 p.m.

Lawrence Park, 1105 North Main St., noon to 12:15 p.m.

Begg Park, 57 Begg Park Drive, 12:20 to 12:35 p.m.

Peterson Elementary in Meridian Park, 12:20 to 12:35 p.m.

Hawthorne Park, Hawthorne Avenue, 12:40 to 12:55 p.m.

Washington Park, Washington Street, 12:40 to 12:55 p.m.

Other funding assistance is also available to help children living in food-insecure households to access critical nutrition over the summer months through an expansion of the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer benefits (P-EBT).

In April, U.S. Sen.Jon Tester, D-Mont., announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture will use American Rescue Plan funding to expand the benefits.

Under the P-EBT extension, any child who qualifies for free or reduced-price meals during the school year, or are under age 6 and live in a household enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, are eligible to receive food assistance.

“The coronavirus crisis has made it more difficult for Montana families to keep food on the table, and the summer months are often the hardest because kids aren’t in school getting nutritious meals,” Tester said in a press release. “This critical program—funded by the American Rescue Plan—will help ensure that Montana kids are able to keep their bellies full, stay healthy, and continue developing throughout the rest of the pandemic, giving families some much-needed peace of mind.”

The P-EBT program was established in March 2020 to provide money for families to purchase food and make up for meals missed when schools closed due to COVID-19. The program was set to expire on Sept. 30, 2020, and did not provide assistance in the summer.

“P-EBT will have real and lasting effects on our children’s health, development, and wellbeing for years to come,” said Lorianne Burhop, chief policy officer of the Montana Food Bank Network. “It has been a difficult year with increased rates of hunger and food insecurity across Montana.”

If a household is eligible for P-EBT and did not receive benefits by June 11, or for more information, call the Montana Department of Health and Human Services at 1-888-706-1535 or email hhshcsdpebt@mt.gov.