Free Lunch Helps Families - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Free Lunch Helps Families

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BILLINGS - School District Two began its federally-funded summer meal program on Wednesday.

Although kids don't have to show their family's proof of income, one of the program's goals is to keep kids, who are on free or discounted lunch during the school year, from going hungry in the summer.

Nicholle Asheim has brought her three kids to North Park for a free lunch, nearly every weekday, over the last few summers.

"Its much easier coming down here every day than trying to figure out what we're going to make," she said. "We like to bring our kids down here. We get to see my nieces and nephews, and it gets us out of the house, and outside to play."

Steve Harris has managed the program since it began nearly 20 years ago. He says the amount of meals served has tripled since then, and this year, there are new sites at the YMCA and Bench Elementary School.

"Obviously with numbers growing, year, after year, after year, I think it's a very worthwhile program for the community of Billings," he said.

The Montana Food Bank Network reports nearly 50,000 kids in Montana struggle with hunger. Last summer, more than half a million lunches were served at sites across the country.

"Some of those children that are in need -- when you see this grow, and you know you're reaching out to those children that are in need, it's very gratifying," he added.

The Food Research and Action Center reports that more than three million children -- nationwide -- used a meal program last summer. For a complete list of Billings' lunch locations, click here.