ROCKLAND, Maine — Hunger is a harsh reality for many students when school is not in session, according to Audrey Lovering, executive director of Many Flags, a regional education collaborative in the midcoast area.

Nearly one in four children in the area live in poverty and more than half the students enrolled in Regional School Unit 13, which serves Rockland, Thomaston, St. George, South Thomaston, Owls Head and Cushing, are eligible for free or reduced lunches during the school year.

Because of a federal grant, those students can get two healthy meals during weekdays throughout the summer, Lovering announced in a news release Thursday. The program, going into its fourth year, will provide breakfast this summer, as well as lunch.

The meals will be served Mondays through Fridays starting June 22 and continuing until Aug. 21.

The meals will be served at Oceanside East High School in Rockland, the Rockland Recreation Center, Youthlinks in Rockland, the Penobscot Bay YMCA in Rockport, the Rockland Public Library, Thomaston Public Library, St. George School, South School in Rockland, the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport, the Camden Teen Center and the Salvation Army in Rockland.

The 2014 summer lunch program served roughly 9,016 lunches.

“Many of our working families are merely surviving not thriving,” Connie Putnam, director of the Knox County Community Health Coalition, said in the release. “Trying to cover the cost of an extra 10 meals a week per child during summer vacation is a financial struggle. This program is a short-term solution to a larger food insecurity issue.”

Any organization working with school age children this summer that would like to explore eligibility for offering lunches at an additional site is urged to contact Lovering at 691-3371.

The summer program is paid for primarily through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But the USDA reimbursements do not cover 100 percent of the costs, and private donations are needed to keep the program operating.

Anyone wishing to donate also is urged to contact Lovering.