Lawrence children who eat free meals through a summer food program soon will be able to take home prepackaged lunches for the weekend, too.
The Lawrence school district won approval for a Food Backpack Demonstration project, announced Monday by the USDA.
Beginning in June, an estimated 550 youngsters age 18 and younger can take home reusable bags filled with enough milk, fruits, vegetables and entrees to feed them lunch each Saturday and Sunday until school’s back in session for the fall.
USDA will pick up the tab: an estimated $100,000 for this summer, plus financing to continue the service again next summer, too.
“We know our families are struggling, financially struggling, and hopefully by providing two meals per student our kids will get the nutrition they need throughout the year,” said Paula Murrish, the district’s division director for food services, printing and purchasing.
The program will supplement the district’s existing summer food program, one that’s been going for 14 years and provides about 1,200 meals each weekday at sites including the Boys & Girls Club, East Lawrence Recreation Center and South Park Recreation Center. Participating students typically qualify for free and reduced-price lunches during the school year.
Organizers will need help packing the bags for the program, which will be expected to begin June 3.
“We need volunteers to help put those together,” Murrish said, noting that the prepackaged foods would make matters easier than by working in bulk. “We can put 2,000 together and get a month’s done.”
Anyone interested in volunteering may contact Murrish or her colleague Lindsey Morgan, the district’s supervisor and registered dietitian for food services, at 832-5000 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.