MCDONOUGH,Ga — The Atlanta Community Food Bank, along with state and community organizations, launched the 2018 Summer Meals program this week.

The kickoff was held on June 6 at the Shiloh-McDonough Community Outreach Family Center in McDonough.

The federally-funded program provides children up to 18 years of age with free, healthy meals while school is out of session.

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“During the summer months, families experiencing food insecurity have an added pressure of finding the next meal for their children. The Summer Meals program helps alleviate some of that stress,” said Kyle Waide, President and CEO of Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Waide said only 17 percent of children in Georgia’s public schools have access to lunch during the summer break, a number that Summer Meals hopes to help increase.

The program served 9.4 million meals throughout the state last year -- a number officials hope to match this summer.

The Food Bank will hold summer pantry sites where families will be able to not only get free lunches, but also have the opportunity to receive groceries to ensure that their nutritional needs are met. Last year, the Food Bank and its partners connected more than 5,000 people to 44,915 meals at summer pantry locations.

Families can text FOOD GA to 877-877 to find summer feeding sites near them.