Archive for Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Cooking Q&A: Summer food program provided for Lawrence youths

May 21, 2003


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

Yes. Here's the information you need to know to participate.

The Lawrence Summer Food Program is a program that provides nutritious, free meals for children between the ages of 1 and 18. An adult must accompany children who are younger than 6. An adult also may purchase lunch for $2 and breakfast for $1. The program will begin June 2 and run Monday through Friday until Aug. 1. It won't be offered on July 4. Lunch will be served from noon to 1 p.m. at the following sites:

  • East Lawrence Recreation Center, 1245 E. 15th St.
  • Centenary United Methodist Church, Fourth and Elm streets.
  • South Park Recreation Center, 1141 Mass.
  • Boys and Girls Club, 1520 Haskell Ave.

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

In the orange flyer that my son brought home from school, it indicated that South Park Recreation Center also will offer the Summer Food Program May 27-30. Is that true?

At the time that the flyer went to press, South Park Recreation Center was going to offer the Summer Food Program May 27-30 in addition to June 2-Aug. 1. Since then, it has been decided that the Lawrence Summer Food Program will start at all of the sites, including South Park Recreation Center, on June 2. Sorry for any inconvenience that this may have caused in making summer plans.

How long has this Summer Food Program been going on?

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

How did it get started?

Seven 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 how we might address childhood hunger in Lawrence. After discussing many issues related to hunger, it became apparent that those 2,600-plus students in Lawrence that depend on free or reduced-price lunches and breakfasts for 9 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 initiating a Summer Food Program in Lawrence. The coalition felt that the Summer Food 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. They include: 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, this is not a closed group -- any agency, organization or individual interested in the coordination of this program are welcome to participate. Just contact 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 State Board of Education Nutrition Services.

However, we also will accept 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.

Who is responsible for preparing the food?

The Lawrence Public Schools Food Service Department prepares, transports and serves the food at all of the sites.

The cost of the program with respect to preparing, transportation and serving, and related administrative costs are 100 percent reimbursable through the Kansas State Board of Education Nutrition Services.

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 will get fed.

You mean they don't have to be involved in the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Playground program or the Boys and Girls Club to get a free lunch at those sites?

No, not at all. The Summer Food Program is open to anyone who shows up.

We just coordinated the sites and times with the Lawrence Parks and Recreation program and the Boys and Girls Club so those involved in those programs also can take advantage of the free lunch program.

So 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.

How do I find out more about the Summer Food Program?

Just call me at 843-7058.

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