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      End of school year means start of hunger for some kids

      Food 4 Kids provides free lunches to students in four Kirksville locations: Brashear Park, PC Mills Park, Memorial Park and Jaycee Park from 11:30-12:30 daily.

      Travis Ziebarth is a 4th grader, and one of many students across the country excited to be out of school for the summer

      While most students leave their classrooms happy for break, many parents are worried, not knowing how they're going to feed their children.

      We contacted Sue Barrett, the Food Services Director of Kirksville's schools and she says last year there were nearly 200 students on reduced lunch, and 1,125 getting free meals at school.

      "I think the statistic was about close to half of the kids are getting free lunch in the schools, and obviously they're not going to school in the summer so it's just a way for them to get that lunch," said Jessica Swiniarski, program manager for Food 4 Kids.

      The report from the Food Research and Action Center, less than 12-percent of Missouri students on free or reduced lunch get free summer meals. Organizers say that is why the need for Food 4 Kids organization is a must. It's a free lunch program for children whose parents cannot afford to feed them while school is out.

      "The program is really about supporting families that are maybe having a hard time right now, said Swiniarski."I know that a lot of people are thinking its just food, but a lot of people don't realize the struggle it can be to feed your kids."

      The report also state Missouri summer meal participation was down just over 34-percent last year, one of the biggest drops in the country.

      If you can't make it to the park, but need help with food this summer contact Rebecca Zimmer 660-349-8682 or email her zimmermsw@yahoo.com

      "I fell very strongly about caring for children in education, health, and nutrition is an important part of that," said Mike Adams, volunteer for Food 4 Kids. "I think it's important that kids get healthy meals."

      With volunteers like Mike, more than fifty students in the Kirksville area were fed Monday.

      "They gave us milk and some dessert, some carrots," said Travis. "Thank you for having this lunch here and think this is the best place ever."

      Food 4 Kids provides free lunches to students in four Kirksville locations: Brashear Park, PC Mills Park, Memorial Park and Jaycee Park from 11:30-12:30 daily.