KALISPELL – A private and publicly funded program is helping to ensure that kids remain strong and healthy by providing access to nutritious meals — and a new mobile food truck is widening access in Kalispell.
Childhood hunger is a problem that affects children year-long and during the summer months it can be especially hard for those kids.
"Four out of the five elementary schools in Kalispell qualify free breakfast and free lunch. To qualify for the program have to be over 45% free and reduced," said Kalispell Schools Superintendent Mark Flatau.
The Kalispell Public Schools summer lunch program offered up more than 12,000 meals last year and now with a new truck, Flatau says even more children can be served.
The truck will serve breakfast and lunch daily at six locations mostly parks. "The food truck pulls up serves the kids there and then they’re on their way," Flatau said.
"Summer can be one of the worst times when kids are most vulnerable," said Zak Andersen who is president of the BNSF Railway Foundation which is one of the community partners that helped fund the truck.
"This is how problems like this get solved is the private sector and the public sector coming together to do the right thing because again this is a solvable problem," Andersen said. "And by joining up with Montana Rail Link and the Dennison Phyllis Washington Foundation we were able to put some funding toward that next food truck."
Governor Steve Bullock celebrated the new truck at the kick-off for the program at Depot Park last week.
"It’s something about 1 in 6 of our kids in Montana struggle with food insecurity. We do pretty good during the school year but during the summer often they have nowhere to turn," Gov. Bullock said.
Montana No Kid Hungry is also a partner in the expanded program. Click here for more information on the summer food program in Kalispell.