Free meals again offered to children in Woodcrest area

For the second year in a row, children ages 18 and under will be provided free breakfasts and lunches at Woodcrest Elementary School this summer.

Spring Lake Park District 16 is again participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s summer food service program available to all children in the Woodcrest area. Children do not have to be residents of Spring Lake Park.

“Kids have to eat every day. It’s not just when school’s in session,” said Amy Kimmel, District 16’s food service coordinator.

The meals, with a focus on local produce and whole grains, will be served Monday through Thursday. The program started June 11 and runs through Aug. 23. Breakfast is served from 8 to 9 a.m. Lunch is served from noon to 1 p.m. Children will be served up to the capacity of the facility. Adults accompanying their children may order a breakfast for $2.10 and a lunch for $3.45.

An average of 80 kids eat breakfast in the Woodcrest summer program, while 120 eat lunch, according to Kimmel.

The Woodcrest area is eligible for the program because more than 50 percent of its students receive free and reduced lunches during the school year.

On the first day of the program this year, 48 children were served breakfast, while 106 were served lunch. Breakfast was a streudel stick made with whole grain pastry. Lunch included mini pancakes, sausage paddies, a hashbrown patty, a choice of fresh or canned fruit and a milk choice of either 1 percent, skim or chocolate skim.

Last year, the program, which ran from June 13 through Aug. 25, served 95,000 meals, including breakfasts and lunches, according to Kimmel.

“Overall, it was a big success,” Kimmel said. “I feel very excited to know that we were able to provide the service to the area. That there truly was a need. That people came out and were appreciative and thankful for it.”

Under the program, the Woodcrest area is eligible for funding for five years (starting last summer). Funded by state and federal dollars, the program needs to be financially viable to continue to operate. In other words, the district is required to recoup its costs.

The program is funded under the same guidelines as the school nutrition program. Federal and state funding reimbursements to the district last summer amounted to $1.88 for every breakfast and $3.29 for every lunch served. The money offsets the cost of running the program, Kimmel said.

Kimmel last year made application to the program through the food and nutrition services of the Minnesota Department of Education, which oversees school nutrition programs.

Kimmel encourages all kids in the Woodcrest area to stop in for a free breakfast and lunch, she said.

“The more the merrier we can feed,” she said.

Woodcrest Elementary School is located at 880 Osborne Road in Fridley.

Menus are available at Woodcrest or Kimmel will e-mail them on request.

For more information, contact Kimmel at [email protected] or call 763-785-5528.

Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]