Two nonprofits are partnering to ensure McKinney children don’t go hungry this summer.

Community Garden Kitchen of Collin County will partner with the North Texas Food Bank to feed youngsters at the Merritt Community Center in McKinney this summer.

The nonprofits will serve lunch to children who live in nearby public housing.

The new partnership is part of the food bank’s Kids Café program, started in 1998 to provide nutritious after-school meals to children who may not have enough food at home.

The summer food service program now serves about 2,400 children from June to August.

“Making sure that children get enough food is vitally important during the summer months,” said Angela Poen, board president of the Community Garden Kitchen, a project planned for the Holy Family School campus in eastern McKinney. “During the school year food is readily available because of school cafeteria programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Unfortunately, once school gets out, a lot of kids don’t have access to enough food.”

Poen is leading fundraising efforts to build a kitchen and dining hall at Holy Family School.

Once built, it will serve meals to students during the day and to the general public in the evening.

An estimated 120,000 Collin County residents experience food insecurity, with over 10 percent of McKinney children under 18 living in poverty, according to the North Texas Food Bank. More than 7,600 children qualify for free or reduced-price meals at school in McKinney, Poen said.

The food bank provides access to more than 170,000 meals each day for hungry children, seniors and families – reaching 63 million meals this past fiscal year, officials said.

“Kids Café is a great program and perfect fit for our volunteers who want to serve right now, but we need a permanent kitchen that is open year-round,” Poen said.

Merritt Community Center, 1200 N. Tennessee Street, serves the Lloyd Owens and Cockrell public housing complexes.

Visit communitygardenkitchen.org for more about the nonprofit project.  To volunteer with Kid’s Café, email directors@communitygardenkitchen.org.