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Needy Mississippi children are receiving free summer meals

BILOXI (AP) — Needy children in Mississippi are receiving free meals this summer through a program sponsored by government agencies.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s summer food service program is providing nearly 43,000 meals a day in the state. That’s up to two meals a day per child in some locations, for about 2.9 million meals throughout the summer.

Food is being provided at schools, HUD multifamily housing complexes, recreation centers, low-income housing units, religious institutions and other places.

“It is hard to conceive that children in America go to sleep on an empty stomach. And yet, many of our youth in Mississippi endure it every day,” Jerrie G. Magruder, HUD director in Mississippi, said in a news release. “When school is out it gets worse, the meal they count on disappears over the summer.”

Robin Bailey, regional administrator for the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, said the summer program helps students who receive free or reduced breakfast and lunch during the school year.

About 2.8 million meals were provided in Mississippi through the program last summer.

Officials from the USDA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the state Department of Education and Magnolia Health launched the program Friday in Biloxi.

Other events to explain the program are scheduled in various locations around the state in coming weeks.

People can find summer feeding sites on an interactive map on a USDA website.