Q: Is the Summer Food Program happening in Lawrence this summer?
A: Yes. The program begins noon May 31 at the East Lawrence Recreation Center, 1245 E. 15th St., and South Park Recreation Center, 1141 Mass., and will run Monday-Friday through July 29.
The Boys & Girls Club, 1520 Haskell Ave., will be serving breakfast from 7:45 a.m.-8:45 a.m. and lunch noon-1 p.m. June 6-July 29.
Starting June 6, breakfast and lunch will be offered at the New York and Woodlawn schools. Breakfast will be served 8 a.m.-8:30 a.m. at New York, 936 N.Y., and 8:15 a.m.-8:45 a.m. at Woodlawn, 508 Elm. Both locations will serve lunch from noon to 12:30 p.m.
Q: What does it cost to participate in the Lawrence Summer Food Program?
A: The Lawrence Summer Food Program provides nutritious free meals for youths 18-and-under. An adult must accompany children under age 4. For adults, breakfast is $1.25 and lunch is $2.50.
Q: I know some kids who may want to participate in the Summer Food Program. What do they need to do?
A: They need to 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.
Q: Do the kids have to qualify for the reduced or free lunch school program in order to participate in the Summer Food Program?
A: No, they don't. The Summer Food Program is open to anyone who shows up.
Q: You mean they don't have to be involved in the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Playground program or the Boys & Girls Club to get a free lunch at those sites?
A: No, not at all. We just coordinated the sites and times with the Lawrence Parks and Recreation program and the Boys & Girls Club so kids involved in those programs also can take advantage of the free lunch program.
Q: So how were the sites selected?
A: 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, youths under 18 can get a free meal.
Q: Who operates the Summer Food Program?
A: The Food and Nutrition Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, administers the program federally. The Kansas State Department of Education Child Nutrition and Wellness department administers the program at the state level. Locally, the Summer Food Program is run by several agencies, including the Boys & Girls Club, Lawrence Parks and Recreation, Douglas County ECKAN, 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 Paula Murrish, director, this program would not exist in Lawrence. The Lawrence Public Schools food service department prepares, transports and serves the food at all of the sites. In addition, they are responsible for submitting all the paperwork to the state and federal government.
Food service receives payments from USDA, through KSDE, for the meals they serve and for their documented operating costs.
Q: How long has this program been offered?
A: The Summer Food Program was created as part of a larger pilot program in 1968. It became a separate program in 1975. By 1980, 1.9 million children were participating nationally. Participation dropped to 1.5 million in 1985, and grew to 1.7 million again by 1990. More than 2 million children participated at almost 31,000 sites in the summer of 2004.
This is the ninth year that Lawrence has been involved in the Summer Food Program. In 1997, a coalition representing the Lawrence Campaign to End Childhood Hunger was formed. It recognized that good nutrition was essential for effective learning every day. Just as learning does not end when school lets out, neither does a child's need for good nutrition. Children who aren't hungry learn better, act better and feel better. As a result, the coalition organized efforts to offer the Summer Food Program in Lawrence.
Last year in Lawrence, 4,532 breakfasts and 17,422 lunches were served.
Q: How do I find out more about the Summer Food Program?
A: Call me at K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 843-7058.