Archive for Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Lawrence offers food program

Summer service helps feed children

May 19, 2004

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What is the Lawrence Summer Food Program?

During the school year, eligible children receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. But those programs cease when school ends for the summer. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program helps fill the hunger gap.

We know that good nutrition is essential for effective learning every day. Just as learning does not end when school lets out, neither does the need for good nutrition. Children who aren't hungry learn better, act better and feel better. The Lawrence Summer Food Program helps children get the nutrition they need to learn, play, and grow throughout the summer months when they are out of school. Children benefit nutritionally by receiving complete, wholesome meals, and parents benefit from some help in stretching their food dollars. This is the eighth year that Lawrence has been involved in the program.

The program provides free meals for youth between the ages of 1 and 18. An adult must accompany anyone under the age of 6. Any adult also may purchase lunch for $2.50 and breakfast for $1.25.

The lunch program will begin Monday at the Boys and Girls Club, 1520 Haskell Ave. Lunch will be served from noon to 1 p.m. Starting June 1, lunch also will be served from noon to 1 p.m. at the East Lawrence Recreation Center, 1245 E. 15th, and South Park Recreation Center, 1141 Mass.

Breakfasts also will be provided from 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. weekdays, June 1 through July 30, at the Boys and Girls Club. The program will run through July 30. The program will be closed July 2 in observance of the July Fourth holiday.

Who is involved in the Lawrence Summer Food Program?

The participating agencies are: 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.

Without the dedication of the Lawrence Public Schools Food Service Department, under the leadership of its director Paula Murrish, this program would not exist in Lawrence. The department prepares, transports and serves the food. In addition, it is responsible for submitting the paperwork to the state and federal government.

Last year, more than 21,000 meals were served to 670 children through the program.

Who pays for the Summer Food Program?

The cost of the program is 100 percent reimbursable through the Kansas State Department of Education -- Child Nutrition and Wellness and the Food and Nutrition Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

I know some children who 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.

Do the children have to qualify for the reduced- or free-lunch school program in order to participate in the Summer Food Program?

No, they don't. The Summer Food Program is open to anyone who shows up.

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

Just call me at K-State Research and Extension -- Douglas County, 843-7058.

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