On Thursday, The Children's Lunchbox, a program of Bean's Cafe, Inc., kicked off its summer lunch and snack program. 

It is estimated that 22,000 kids in the Anchorage area don't have enough healthy food to eat. Many children also rely on school lunches for something to eat. The Children's Lunchbox will partner with 12 sites to provide summer meals to kids up to 18-years-old.

The program is an extension of the weekend food program done during the school year.

"The program gives a lot of kids something to eat and look forward to," Jade Simpson said. "I work with a lot of the kids here at the Stephen's Park Apartments. We provide, lunch, snacks and programs for the kids during the summer."

Simpson says she works with the kids on certain arts, crafts and gardening throughout the summer.

"We have a compost pile," Simpson said. "It's the first year we are doing this program at this property. I'm expecting around 12 kids once we get going."

All open and enrolled food sites, with start dates, are listed here

The mission of Children's Lunchbox is to feed hungry children in safe community environments.

"We've been partnering with Children's Lunchbox for six or seven years now," Jake Hubers with Parachutes Teen Center said. "Children's Lunchbox provides us with a number of free meals and snacks. There's a number of youth that come in and that is the main reason they come in is to get something to eat."

Parachutes Teen Club is a place where teams can go to hang out, get help with homework and just relax. 

"It's a very beneficial program," Hubers said. "I'm glad we are a part of it." 

The mission of Children's Lunchbox is to feed hungry children in safe community environments.

In 2004, Bean's Cafe's Board of Directors formed a new nonprofit, Kid's Cafe, and began providing snacks and meals to local community programs. In 2006, Kid's Cafe officially merged with Bean's Cafe and was reborn as the program now known as The Children's Lunchbox. Find Children's Lunchbox locations here.

Questions or comments about this story? Email reporter Scott Gross.

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