Feed Eudora free lunch program returns, serves hundreds in its first few days
photo by: Elvyn Jones
Judy Erpelding, her 17-year-old daughter Kate and Kate’s friend Madison Grosdidier grabbed free pizza lunches from the Feeding Eudora summer meal program on Friday, joining hundreds of other people who took part in the program over the past few days.
“It frees me from cooking,” Judy said as they sat down to eat at Eudora’s CPA Park. “And the girls enjoy having a picnic.”
Friday was the third day of this year’s Feeding Eudora program, which provides free lunches to Eudora children and adults. Director Molly James said the first two days were impressive, with 260 lunches served on Wednesday and 186 on Thursday. She said the program had come a long way since its first year, when it only served snacks and would only help about 60 people a day.
Feeding Eudora lunches will be served from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at the park.
This is the fifth year for the program, which was started to ensure all Eudora children would have something to eat when school lunches are unavailable during the summer months. This year, the program started the day after the Eudora school district concluded its Grab and Go children’s lunch program.
James has been with the program for its entire run, serving in various positions before becoming the director a year ago. She said this is perhaps the program’s most important year because of job losses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, Feeding Eudora is scheduled to continue until Aug. 12, the day before Eudora schools are scheduled to reopen, James said. But there is some uncertainty behind that school start date because of the pandemic, and she said the district “indicated they would work with us if the start of school is delayed.”
“The school district has been great to work with,” James said.
James said the district helped Feeding Eudora get a $15,000 grant from the Douglas County Community Foundation, which made it possible for the program to buy lunches from local restaurants. Those restaurant meals are served every other day, while the program’s other lunches are prepared by six local churches, she said.
The program also receives support from local food bank Harvesters, James said, which has helped enable the program to hand out a second take-home sack lunch daily.
Volunteers also make the program work, James said. On Thursday, there were seventeen volunteers helping with the program.
Two of Judy Erpelding’s children were among them: 14-year-old Jayla and 12-year-old Beckham.
“I think that’s a great thing about the program,” Judy Erpelding said. “It gives kids a chance to volunteer for community service work.”