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Waverly summer meal program sees spike in summer need

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We Fight For Iowans

WAVERLY, Iowa (KWWL) - Times are strange and for some times may be tough. Regardless, it's important for folks to stick together, and to accept help if they need it.

The Waverly-Shell Rock United Way combined their summer meal program with that of the school district, using funds through that program that were already earmarked for food distribution.

Each Tuesday, a drive-thru was set up to make the pickup easy and socially distanced. Last summer, the United Way helped about 40-50 kids each week. In 2020, that number increased drastically amid the pandemic, the drive-thru feeding between 400-500 kids.

“Some of these foods are familiar to a lot of the kids. A lot of the area kids are seeing these foods in school, so it just kind of gives them that sense of comfort of knowing that things are going to be okay," said Jill Krall, the executive director of the WSR United Way.

Each child got 4 breakfasts and 4 lunches per week. Krall said all of the meals met USDA guidelines for nutrition. She said many of the families took advantage of the program simply because they were anxious as to what could happen within their own lives.

"It was very hard for me to ask for help," said Dani Dickens, a parent who participated in the program.

Once a single mom, Dickens knows that pride can often keep a person from reaching out.

"If we don't use programs that are out there to help us, they will go away. So don't be ashamed to ask," said Dickens.

For 2020, the program ended June 23rd, but the United Way has a plan in place to continue helping those locally deal with food insecurity.

“The school is ending their program this week. So we'll be shifting to more of a community effort of partnering with the food bank, getting food, and meeting families where they're at, sort of one on one. Finding out what families need and how can we get those products to them? You know it's not a one size fits all right now. It never is, but particularly right now it's not a one size fits all scenario.” Krall said.

As the need remains, they stuffed informational pamphlets in the last bags of the program. Each pamphlet listed details and resources of how families can continue to get help.

"It really can hit anybody at any time," said Krall. "We hope that they remember our name, they remember that we were here for them, and that they remember how to call us and get a hold of us when that need does arise."

You can reach the Waverly-Shell Rock United Way by calling: (319) 352-2582

KWWL and the United Way are teaming up for a day of giving on Tuesday, June 30th. We’ll be asking for your help all day and during a special broadcast at 6:30 that night.

When it comes to protecting our most vulnerable, every dollar counts, and it all starts with your help.

Please join the battle Tuesday, June 30th, as We Fight For Iowans!

You can donate to your local United Way at WeFightFor.org

You can also text WEFIGHT to 91999  

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Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

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