Corbin H. Crable
The Edgerton United Methodist Church began hosting its third annual summer Lunch Bunch on June 1 and will continue to feed area kids on weekdays until late July.
The event allows Edgerton children to eat lunch at the church for free, five days a week during the summer months. Area residents and businesses alike donate food, funding and even time to the event.
“We give kids lunch every day – and one day each week we do pizza. On that day, we’re packed,” volunteer Cheri Magee said, laughing.
Magee, who also works as a paraeducator at Edgerton Elementary, said she recognizes many of the children who walk through the doors of the church every day for lunch.
“A lot of them need contact,” said Magee, who added that most children have parents who work during the day. “If their parents are working, they can come here and see their friends.
“This gives them a safe place to go for a while, and it gives them a good lunch.”
Volunteer Angie Capps, who also works at the elementary school as a paraeducator, said it’s always good to know the kids are well-fed and safe.
“They brighten up when they come in here and see us,” Capps said.
Lunch Bunch organizers say they won’t have to worry about competition from USD 231 this summer, either. The school district recently launched its own summer meal program dedicated to feeding not only kids within the USD 231 boundaries, but any child who needs it. The school district offers breakfast and lunch on weekdays at Gardner Elementary, the only school in the district that qualifies to offer the program, since more than half of its students qualify for free or reduced meals.
Edgerton kids simply can’t make the trek to Gardner, Magee said. And besides, she added, the Lunch Bunch is a way to draw the Edgerton community together.
Lunch Bunch organizers and volunteers also are trying to give kids a little extra something during their time at the church each day. Pastor Gayla Rapp has suggested showing movies inside the church building either before or after lunch, since some kids may not want to go outside to play as it gets warmer this summer. Other ideas have included sidewalk chalking, kickball and even driving to Gardner to cool off.
“It would be great if we had a bus to take kids to the pool each week,” Magee said.
Members of the city of Edgerton’s Recreation and Cultural Arts Committee are currently in talks to host activities for the Lunch Bunch crowd.
None of this would be possible without the help and generosity of residents and donors who give food and money to help the program thrive – and volunteers make up the foundation of the Lunch Bunch as well, Rapp said.
“I can’t say enough about what they do,” she said of the program’s volunteers. “They do this because they truly love the kids of this community.”
But for Capps, the decision to serve is a no-brainer.
“We felt a call to do this,” she said, “and you have to answer that call.”
Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday during the summer at the church, 300 E. Fourth St. Call the church at (913)882-6735 for more information.