Archive for Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Summer program provides free meals to youths

May 23, 2001


Is the Lawrence Summer Food Program being offered again this year?

Yes it is. A planning team of community members met the other day to finalize details. Here's the information you need to know to participate.

The Lawrence Summer Food Program provides nutritious free meals for youths between the ages of 1 and 18. An adult must accompany anyone under the age of 6 years old. Adults may purchase a meal for $2.

The program will begin June 4 and will run weekdays through July 27 (excluding July 4).

Lunch will be served from noon to 1 p.m. at these sites:

l East Lawrence Recreation Center, 1245 E. 15th St.

l South Park Recreation Center, 1141 Mass.

l Boys and Girls Club, 1520 Haskell Ave. (program offered through Aug. 2).

Free breakfasts will also be provided from 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. at the Boys and Girls Club.

How long has this Summer Food Program been going on?

This is the fifth year for the Summer Food Program in Lawrence.

Five years ago, representatives from the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger in Kansas met with a group of individuals from various governmental and nonprofit agencies in Lawrence to discuss childhood hunger.

After discussing issues related to hunger, it became apparent that the 2,600-plus students in Lawrence that depend on free or reduced-price school lunches and breakfasts for nine months out of the year are faced with an increased risk of hunger and developmental decline during summer vacation.

We studied the research that shows that children who miss breakfast and lunch are more likely to be sick, absent or tardy, disruptive in class, and inattentive. They also score lower on achievement tests. Therefore, the conclusion was that good nutrition is essential for learning and learning does not end when school lets out.

As a result, the community coalition agreed to pursue a Summer Food Program in Lawrence. The coalition thought such a program would provide an opportunity to continue a child's physical and social development while providing nutritious meals. Therefore, it would help children return to school ready to learn.

What agencies are involved in the Lawrence Summer Food Program?

There are eight participating agencies: Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, City of Lawrence Parks and Recreation, Douglas County ECKAN, Kansas Campaign to End Childhood Hunger, Kaw Valley Children's Center, K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, Lawrence Housing Authority Resident Services and Lawrence Public Schools Food Service Department.

However, any agency, organization or individual interested in the coordination of this program is welcome to participate. For more information, call me at 843-7058.

Who is funding the Summer Food Program?

The Summer Food Program is a federally funded program operated nationally by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered through the Kansas Board of Education Nutrition Services.

However, we are also seeking monetary donations from corporations, businesses, community groups, organizations, and individuals. The donations will be used to help cover the costs of adult meals for those in need and to supplement the cost of "special feature days" promoted to increase interest in the food program. The donations are tax-deductible.

The Lawrence Public Schools Food Service Department prepares, transports and serves the food.

I know some children that may want to participate in the Summer Food Program. What do they need to do?

All they need to do is show up at one of the sites. There is no fee or registration. They don't need proof of income. They don't need proof of age. And, they don't need a meal ticket. If they show up at the designated times, they'll get fed.

How were the sites selected?

The approved sites meet the qualifications in which at least half the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. However, once the site is approved, any youth between the ages of 1 and 18 can get a free meal.

Meal sites and times are coordinated with the Lawrence Parks and Recreation program and the Boys and Girls Club so children in those programs can take advantage of the free lunch program.

Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.

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