Helena Public Schools free meal program starts next week

Munchtana food truck
Posted at 6:56 PM, Jun 03, 2024

HELENA — Now that it is June, it is officially summer, and Helena Public Schools is starting its free summer meal program next week.

"There's nothing worse than the last day of school and a kid comes up to you [and] says, 'what am I going to eat tomorrow?' There's nothing worse, it's like 'oh my gosh.' That's why I get the program going as soon as I can. We stop school Thursday; I give my team one day to get prepped for Monday, and we start feeding kids on Monday," said HPS Food Service Director Robert Worthy.

All children ages one to 18 can receive the free meals regardless of income.

Worthy said, "Last year, we had a van show up, and they didn't speak English, but they had kids, and they all got to eat."

Meals are served from the "Munchtana Food Truck."

Families will receive 14 meals a week for each child: seven breakfasts and seven lunches.

Last summer, the program served over 63,000 meals to children, which made it the number one feeding program in Montana.

"Pizza, we have sandwiches, we have salads, we have corn dogs and chicken nuggets. We have fresh vegetables," said Worthy.

The program received a $14,000 grant from No Kid Hungry this summer to spend on equipment and marketing.

Munchtana signs

The summer meals program is federally funded and provided by the district's food vendor, Sodexo.

There are nine different pick-up locations, with Rossiter being a new addition.

Some locations offer meals to be eaten on-site; others offer ready-to-eat meals or meals to be made at home.

Worthy said, "The reality is, there is a need, and my hope is I can get all of those needs covered."

The free summer meal program runs from June 10th to August 16th, and no meals will be given on July 4th and 5th.

There is no deadline or cap on registrations.

You can register in person at one of the sites, but it is preferred to do it online ahead of time.

So far, the program has 311 families signed up. You can register here.