Archive for Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer program provides lunches to hungry children, teens

Deciana Jaillite, 6, bites into a slice of watermelon during a Summer Lunch Program meal last week in South Park. More than 65 children took their noon meal in the park last Tuesday.

Deciana Jaillite, 6, bites into a slice of watermelon during a Summer Lunch Program meal last week in South Park. More than 65 children took their noon meal in the park last Tuesday.

July 24, 2009

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Summer Lunch Program Locations

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

breakfast: 8:15 a.m.-8:45 a.m.

lunch: Noon-1 p.m.

until Aug. 7

South Park Recreation Center, 1141 Mass.

lunch only: Noon-1 p.m.

until Aug. 7

Pinckney School, 810 W. Sixth St.

breakfast: 8:15 a.m.-8:45 a.m.

lunch: Noon-1 p.m.

until Thursday

Edgewood, 1600 Haskell Ave.

Monday-Thursday lunch only: Noon-1 p.m.

until Thursday

Broken Arrow Park, 29th and Louisiana streets

lunch only: Noon-1 p.m.

until Aug. 7

A line of hungry children begins to wrap around the side of the South Park Recreation Center as lunchtime approaches. Kids clamor for position near the front, waiting for their free lunches from the Lawrence Summer Food Program.

Today, it’s “hot pockets” served in brown paper bags, to be eaten on swings and park benches beneath skies that threaten rain.

The program, which is in its 13th year in Lawrence, addresses the growing need for school-age children in low-income families to receive daily, nutritious meals. That need is addressed during the school year with the free or reduced-price lunch program, but organizers for the Summer Food Program said the need for assistance doesn’t end with the school year.

“Just because kids are home during the summer and don’t have access to the free and reduced lunch program doesn’t mean families’ incomes go up during the summer to buy food,” said Susan Krumm, a nutrition educator for the K-State Research and Extension office in Douglas County. “We know the importance of nutritious food all year round, not just during the school year.”

Food is cooked daily by members of the Lawrence school district’s food services operation. Lunches are prepared in the kitchens of Lawrence High School before being transported to five sites across town. There’s no fee, no registration and no proof of income required.

Almost 31 percent of students in Douglas County take advantage of free or reduced price lunches at their schools because their family income falls below a certain level. That number, up from 28 percent last year, is far greater than the number of kids the summer program serves, said Jeanette Collier, coordinator for Douglas County ECKAN.

“We know that it’s terribly underutilized and I really think part of the problem is transportation,” Collier said. “Parents are working, and if they’re trying to stretch dollars to get to and from work, taking their kid to breakfast and lunch is really not an option.”

Despite the program’s inevitable limitations, organizers said they were still expecting its numbers to grow as a result of the suffering economy.

“We see 40 to 50 homeless families with children on any given day in this community,” Collier said. “We are seeing many new people who have never had to access social services before. And these are all people from the county. People think that these people come from outside someplace, but these are often families who have lived here for many years.”

Already the program has had to allow for more children than expected, Krumm said.

“It’s really quite crucial that we keep this program going especially now during these rocky economic times,” she said.

Comments

Jean1183 5 years, 10 months ago

I think it's a great program....keep up the good work!

Lori Nation 5 years, 10 months ago

And people wonder why some of us have to pick up the slack of others.

denak 5 years, 10 months ago

In this case, why shouldn't we? Or do you think it benefits our community to have chidren hungry?

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