Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

How to Get Free Meals for Kids This Summer

Program by MPS and two foundations delivers free meals in three ZIP codes.

By , Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service - Jun 5th, 2021 11:58 am
Two new programs will deliver free meals to families with children 18 and younger this summer. This photo is from a community meals event in 2014. NNS file photo.

Two new programs will deliver free meals to families with children 18 and younger this summer. This photo is from a community meals event in 2014. NNS file photo.

Milwaukee families with children 18 and younger can get food delivered to their doorsteps for free this summer thanks to two newly announced programs.

For families living in the 53205, 53206 and 53233 ZIP codes, Milwaukee Public Schools, the MPS Foundation and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation MKE Responds Fund have organized the  “Summer Meal Delivery Pilot Program.” The program will deliver two-day packs of food containing two breakfasts, lunches and milks to designated bus stops (and in some cases, individual homes) every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from July 7 through Aug. 25.

To sign up for the program, click hereThe deadline to register is Friday, June 11.

In addition, the Hunger Task Force and Gourmet Gorilla, a kids meal supplier based in Chicago, will be distributing seven-day meal packs to families with children 18 or younger anywhere in Milwaukee County. The program is called “Gorilla to Go” and will run from June 14 through Aug. 30.

Ashley Best, community nutrition program manager at the Hunger Task Force, said the program is now placing families on a waitlist after officials were deluged with meal requests for 3,000 children during the first 24 hours of “Gorilla to Go.” 

Best said she expects to receive funding to enroll families on the waitlist but said those on the waitlist may not receive a box immediately when the program starts this month.

To get on the Gorilla to Go program’s waitlist, click here. 

Best also asked that families who are receiving free meals through another program, such as MPS’ or the Boys and Girls Clubs’ summer meals programs, refrain from signing up for Gorilla to Go.  We want to “make sure that everyone who is hungry gets something,” Best said. 

What is in the MPS box, and how does it work?

Those who live in the 53205, 53206 or 53233 ZIP codes can register to receive meals for the Summer Meal Delivery Pilot Program through June 11. Your child does not need to attend an MPS school to qualify.

Bus-stop deliveries will begin on July 7 and run through Aug. 25 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In some cases, deliveries will be made to a family’s doorstep if members are unable to make it to a drop-off site. 

Boxes will include two breakfasts, two lunches and two milks per person in the family that registers. Vegetarian and religious dietary restrictions can be accommodated upon request. 

Kelly Rickman Bosh, development and donor relations manager at the MPS Foundation, said the goal is to serve 1,000 meals per day.

Families who do not live in the specified ZIP codes or are otherwise not participating in this delivery program can still pre-order meal bundles for pick up on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon at these schools.

Pre-ordered meal bundles will contain a packaged breakfast and lunch for anyone in the community that is 18 and younger. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the meal bundles will contain two days’ worth of breakfast and lunch. On Fridays, children will receive breakfast and lunch for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Families can pre-order meals for pickup at MPS Summer Meal Program sites here.

What’s in the Gorilla to Go box, and how does it work?

Families participating in the Gorilla to Go program will have seven-day meal packs delivered to their doorstep once per week.

In addition to a standard box of food that includes meats, families will be able to receive a vegetarian box, or a box containing foods relevant to southeast Asian cuisine. The Hmong American Friendship Association, which operates a food pantry at 3824 W. Vliet St., is being consulted on which foods should be included in that box.

The program is based on a similar one piloted in western Kenosha County that is led by Gourmet Gorilla and the Sharing Center, a nonprofit in Kenosha County that offers services and supplies to local families. Sharon Pomaville, executive director at the Sharing Center, said families may not be prepared for the quality of meals they receive through this program, citing the abundance of fresh ingredients and lack of pre-processed foods.

“It’s like Blue Apron,” Pomaville said, referring to the for-profit weekly meal kit supplier. “The biggest complaint we receive is that families have to cook all the time because there’s no prepared meals.”

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

One thought on “How to Get Free Meals for Kids This Summer”

  1. sbaldwin001 says:

    Making certain that kids have access to nutritious foods in the summer is important, but I wish this article would explain why MPS and the MPS Foundation are involved. Does the cost of this program come out of the MPS budget? If it is supported by a grant, why is the grant through the school system? What does this have to do with education, especially since school is not in session during the summer?

    Only a little more than half of Milwaukee students are now enrolled in conventional MPS schools. When this system began, it probably made sense for funding and distribution to go through MPS. But I question if this is still true. It seems like MPS has plenty of educational needs that the MPS Foundation would be more appropriately funding.

    I applaud all of the people involved with this program who are doing a great service to the community, but I wonder if the system supporting them needs to be re-adjusted to reflect current circumstances. Should I, and non-MPS parents, be writing our MPS school board representatives with these questions?

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