ALPENA, Mich. — The Salvation Army of Alpena is kicking off their summer lunch program for kids starting next week. The “Meet Up and Eat Up” program kicks off on Monday, June 21, and the service will provide free meals to kids and teens while school is out.
“It provides a meal for youth in the area,” said Major Prezza Morrison, the Corps Officer with Alpena’s Salvation Army. “This year we’re going to be doing it differently because of COVID, they’re going to be driving up here at our office and picking up the lunches.”
About 7-in-10 students in Alpena Public Schools receive a free, or reduced lunch. Come summertime, that opportunity goes away.
“The meet up and eat up program is very essential for our youth,” Morrison said. “During the school year they get free and reduced lunches at school, and then during the summer months- you start wondering, ‘Where are they gonna get the food that they need?'”
Throughout the year, proper nutrition is essential for children while they learn and grow– it’s a basic physiological need. Major Morrison says this is another reason the Salvation Army has been helping feed the community.
“When I was a kid, I was always told it was brainfood,” Morrison said. “I think that’s a really strong emphasis — it really helps us function as we comprehend things during the day.”
Many children have experienced this for a while. As in–person learning was interrupted by the pandemic, a bigger light has been shone on food insecurity in Northeast Michigan, especially in our youth.
“I think it was community wide — they went, ‘Wow is this what really happens in the summer? Or, these are the number of children that need food?'” Morrison said.
The Salvation Army will be serving lunches, as well as a breakfast for the next day. Lunches can be picked up on weekdays from noon until 12:30 at the Salvation Army’s office on Second Avenue in Alpena.