The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s summer food service program at Woodcrest Elementary School was a success, according to Amy Kimmel, Spring Lake Park District 16’s food service coordinator.
“Overall, the summer feeding program fills a need in the community in which we (the school district) feel fortunate to be able to provide the resources necessary to make it happen,” Kimmel said.
This summer 4,233 breakfasts were served, a 549 increase over last year’s figures. Lunches saw an increase from last year’s number of 5,638 to 7,126, an increase of 1,588.
The program ran June 11 through Aug. 23. Meals were served free of charge to children up to 18 years of age living near the Woodcrest area.
Woodcrest was deemed eligible for the program because more than 50 percent of its students receive free and reduced lunches during the school year.
Kimmel said she believes the program saw an increase in participation because it is in its second year. Another reason is an increase in need in meal assistance, she said.
Kimmel also believes word of mouth about the “nutritious, yummy foods” drove the number increase.
The menus included a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Meals were served in a welcoming environment.
Kimmel has received numerous accounts of favorable feedback from program participants. One child said, “Those cooks really know how to cook.”
The program, a five-year initiative, funded by federal and state dollars, will be offered again next summer.
Elyse Kaner is at firstname.lastname@example.org