United Way addresses summer hunger, provides free meals 


LEE COUNTY — Beginning June 3, United Way of Lee County will provide free meals to all children and teens in Lee County, all summer long.

“Food insecurity has made an already stressful time even more so. Many families rely on school meals to feed their children,” said Keri Olson, Executive Director of United Way of Lee County. “The United Way Summer Eats program will help bridge the gap by providing families safe, stigma-free places to receive meals.”

Kids and teens will be able to get a grab and go meal from one of 10 sites throughout Lee County. Meals will feature kid-friendly foods like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, crackers, granola bars, and fruit.  No registration or ID is required, and participation is open to all children and teens 18 and under.  

United Way of Lee County began serving summer meals in 2017.  Changes to this year’s Summer Eats will allow for added safety during the pandemic. Additional cleaning procedures will be maintained, and meals will focus on prepacked, individually sealed items. Instead of serving lunches three days a week, each site will only serve on Wednesdays but will provide three lunches for each child, along with extra goodies. Pick up will be contact-less and volunteers will be provided with masks and gloves. The program runs June 3– Aug. 12.  

2020 Summer Eats Meal Sites and Serving Times 

• Dixon High School Cafeteria: 12 p.m.

• Madison/Reagan Middle School: 12 p.m.

• Jefferson School: 12 p.m.

• Washington School: 12 p.m.

•Old Lincoln School (Open Sesame): 12 p.m.

• St Paul Church, Dixon: 12 p.m.

• Franklin Grove Library: 12:40 p.m.

• Ashton Mills & Petrie Building: 1:10 p.m.

• Amboy Library: 12 p.m.

• Paw Paw Library: 11 a.m. 

Summer Eats is meeting a real need in the community. Even before Covid-19, 21.5 percent, of Lee County children were food insecure, meaning they have limited or uncertain access to safe and nutritious food. And this issue has been compounded by the pandemic. 

Children who are hungry or food insecure are more likely to be in poor health and less likely to form friendships, to be curious, and to learn. This summer meal program can respond to this problem.