By Cryss Walker

(CBS DETROIT) – Thousands of kids depend on meals that are usually provided in school, and often times they go hungry in the summer.

Gleaners is stepping in to help fill that need with a free lunch program.

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It’s a mission to distribute 150,000 free meals this summer.

Gleaners is leading the effort to make sure kids are getting the nutrition they need over the next 10 weeks.

“In the summertime historically, we’ve seen a great need,” said Gleaners director of Mobile Operations Betz Deschenes.

“We’re seeing it even more these days with the impact of inflation and its impact on food and gas.”

Meet Up And Eat Up is a free lunch program designed for kids under the age of 18.

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The program runs weekdays at 69 sites across Metro-Detroit.

“We try to have a really balanced menu that meets USDA guidelines and for an example today it was a turkey sandwich, and there’s always a salad component, a fruit component, and a milk component, Deschenes said.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 2.3 million meals were served in Michigan through the National Free Lunch program in 2021.

Gleaners is now matching donations to expand their services to reach as many kids as possible.

“It’s really a community engagement activity as much as it is a food activity and its wonderful to be able to go to sites and meet families and meet children and meet coordinators and really get to know our community,” Deschenes said.

For Meet Up and Eat Up sites, dial 211 or click here.

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