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Archive for Thursday, June 3, 2010

A free lunch

June 3, 2010

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It’s disappointing to see Kansas almost at the bottom of a ranking of how well states are utilizing a federally funded summer meals program.

According to a listing released this week by the Food Research and Action Center, a Washington-based nonprofit group, only 6.8 percent of Kansas children whose family incomes qualify them for free or reduced-price lunches in school took advantage of summer lunch programs in 2008. Only Oklahoma and Mississippi had lower participation in the program.

We hope that number has risen in Kansas by now, but many people in Lawrence and elsewhere still aren’t familiar with this program and how it works. It really couldn’t be much easier.

Susan Krumm, an agent for K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, gave an outline of the program in her weekly Journal-World column on May 19. Any youngster between the ages of 1 and 18 can get a free meal at one of five sites around Lawrence: Central Junior High School, East Lawrence Recreation Center, Broken Arrow Park, Edgewood Homes or South Park Recreation Center. A full schedule of which meals are offered and on what days is available at www2.ljworld.com/news/2010/may/19/summer-food-program-offers-free-meals-area-youths.

Youngsters don’t have to qualify for free or reduced-price lunches at school or meet any other requirements. If they show up, they can get a meal. The only rule is that they must consume the meal on site, not pick it up and eat it elsewhere.

Although any one is welcome, the main focus of the program is to make sure that children who get free meals during the school year don’t go hungry during the summer. Family incomes don’t increase when school is out to help buy more food. The Lawrence district had more than 3,400 students who qualified for free or reduced-price lunches this year.

That’s a lot of mouths to feed, and it would be a shame if any of those youngsters are skipping meals or just getting by when free, healthy meals are available through the summer food program. Anyone with questions about the program can contact Krumm at 843-7058 or skrumm@ksu.edu.

The program is a great way to support community youngsters and their families. Let’s get the word out and make sure Lawrence does its part to raise the state’s participation.

Comments

George Lippencott 4 years, 5 months ago

I noticed this information in many different forums today. Not one had an explanation as to why the program is not used. There was kind of a suggestion that more publicity is required. Is that the answer? Do we know the answer? Could it be as simple as a preference for burgers over the wholesome food the program provides? Since our definition of poor does not in general include as income programs such as this could our poor be not as poor as we think?

headdoctor 4 years, 5 months ago

It could be a very simple answer. Those that are not in walking distance may have problems getting to and from the lunch areas. Of those 3400 kids many of the parents or parent is working to keep their head above water so it might not be possible.

Katara 4 years, 5 months ago

Yup. There are only 5 sites here in Lawrence and if they are not in walking distance & there is no other transportation available (financially, physically, etc), those kids will be going without.

George Lippencott 4 years, 5 months ago

You may well be right! If you are correct it would appear that we should be providing some mechanism to get the food to the kids or the kids to the food. Be nice to know what the problem is so we can fix it. Getting out the word will not fix the problem you sugggest.

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