The Gardner Edgerton School District is providing its Summer Food Service Program to area youth.
Over the past seven years, thousands of meals have been served to community children. Last summer, the participating Gardner Edgerton schools served more than 20,000 meals in seven weeks.
“Unfortunately, nutritional needs for kids don’t stop when school is out. Our program helps parents and caregivers bridge the gap over summer break by providing healthy, fresh meals to our community’s children,” said Amy Droegemeier, director of Nutrition Services. “We want our school sites to continue to be a place where kids gather to see their friends and enjoy a meal together. This year, we’re extending the length of our program to ensure that we can help meet these needs virtually year round.”
The Summer Food Service Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by Kansas State Department of Education, provides nutritious meals to children during the summer.
During the school year, nearly half of the children in Kansas qualify for reduced-price or free meals. The goal of the Summer Food Service program is to ensure children continue to receive nutritious meals during long school vacations when the low-cost or free school meals are no longer available.
The program provides freemeals for all children 1 to 18 years of age. Persons over 18 years of age may also dine at any of the sites for a minimal fee The following locations in the district are serving free meals this summer.
Edgerton Elementary: Tuesday, May 30 – Friday, Aug. 4; Breakfast 8-8:30 am / Lunch 11-11:30 a.m.
Moonlight Elementary: Monday, June 5 – Friday, Aug. 4; Breakfast 7:30-8:30 am / Lunch 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Wheatridge Middle School: Monday, June 5 – Friday, Aug. 4; Breakfast 7:30-8:30 a.m. / Lunch 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Kansas has moved up in the ranks of nutrition programs.
During July 2016, Summer Nutrition Program participation in Kansas grew 10.4 percent according to a new report, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, from the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).
Throughout the summer, over 1.3 million meals were served in Kansas.
Each summer, nearly 190,000 Kansas children lose access to the free or reduced-price meals they receive during the regular school year. The Summer Nutrition Programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, help fill this gap by providing free, healthy meals to children who might otherwise go hungry.
Kansas ranks 45th for participation in Summer Nutrition Programs. FRAC’s report ranks all 50 states and D.C., and this is the first time Kansas is ranked better than 48th since 2013.
Though Kansas’s Summer Nutrition Program participation grew, only nine children received a summer lunch for every 100 who received a free or reduced-price lunch during the 2015-2016 school year.
The report highlights the work of Kansas Appleseed and the Kansas State Department of Education to expand the program to 16 new counties by identifying gaps in service areas, convening partners and promoting best practices. Additionally, Kansas was one of three states selected by the National League of Cities and FRAC in spring 2016 to participate in an initiative to increase summer and afterschool meals participation.
“The Summer Food Service Program is critical to fighting childhood hunger in Kansas, and we know that every new site means fewer hungry kids in a community,” said Rebekah Gaston, Childhood Hunger Initiative director at Kansas Appleseed, a statewide policy advocacy organization. “We’re incredibly proud of the dedicated leaders in communities across the state who have worked so hard to ensure that nutritious meals are accessible to children. As a state, we should celebrate that the Summer Nutrition Programs reached more kids in 2016, but we should also keep working to expand the program for the tens of thousands of children we didn’t reach.”
Summer meals are provided at local sites such as schools, recreation centers, libraries, YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, churches, parks and more for all children, regardless of income, ages 18 and under. Enrichment activities are also offered at many meals locations, keeping children engaged and prepared to return to the classroom in the fall. To locate a site, visit www.KansasKidsTable.org.