BURLINGTON JUNCTION, Mo. — A growing program is addressing hunger for kids in Nodaway County.

Second Harvest Community Food Bank’s No Hunger Summer program is in its third year of serving Nodaway County, providing children with free lunches five days a week while school is out.

“We’ve always kind of had the Backpack Buddies program for elementary school kids, but we knew there were still gaps beyond that with older kids, and then in the summer, when kids aren’t in school, they don’t have a school lunch,” said Second Harvest CEO Chad Higdon. “We’ve been very eager to expand in communities where we see a high need of low-income kids to really kind of grow this summer feeding program.”

And Nodaway County fits the bill. Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap initiative estimates that 16.5 percent of Nodaway County’s population lives with food insecurity, according to the most recent 2017 data from the organization. That’s the highest percentage in Second Harvest’s 19-county region, and 11th in the state.

The site at the United Methodist Church in Burlington Junction, which Higdon visited last week, is the only one in Nodaway County, served by volunteers from a number of different churches and organizations across the area. It serves anywhere from 15-35 kids each day, and also some adults.

“We’re really excited to know that kids have an opportunity to go to a place and find lunch during the summer,” Higdon said.

The free lunch program is made viable through federal reimbursements introduced in the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act.

Children under 18 eat lunch for free at any of the No Hunger Summer sites, and adults can eat for $2. The program in Burlington Junction runs through July 26.

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