Woodcrest Elementary School for the third year in a row is offering free breakfasts and lunches for children this summer when school is out.
Through August 22, Spring Lake Park District 16 is participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s summer food service program.
Just because school ends for the year, it doesn’t mean students won’t have a need for nutritious food, said Amy Kimmel, District 16’s food service director.
“It (the free lunch program) allows for children to know there’s a nutritious lunch and breakfast available for them in a location they’re familiar with,” Kimmel said.
The program also lightens the financial burden for some in purchasing groceries, she said.
The Woodcrest area was deemed “area eligible” to qualify for the five-year program because more than 50 percent of its students are on free and reduced lunch during the school year, according to Kimmel.
Children ages 18 and under need only show up at the school’s cafeteria. Breakfast is served each morning from 8 to 9 a.m. and lunch is served from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
On the menu are such items as a turkey wrap, Italian pasta salad, beef hotdog on a bun and meatballs and mashed potatoes. Should a child prefer, an alternative lunch is available. Examples would be a chicken Caesar wrap, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich served with a cheese stick. Some days a fruit and yogurt parfait is offered as an alternative.
If parents wish to join their children, breakfast costs $2.10, lunch is $3.40.
Last year 4,233 breakfasts and 7,126 lunches were served at Woodcrest, an increase of 548 breakfasts and 1,488 lunches served in 2011, the first year of the summer program. In 2011, 3,685 breakfasts and 5,638 lunches were served, according to Kimmel.
The food service program is funded with federal and state dollars.
“Good nutrition is essential for learning in school,” according to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service website. “Summer food service program provides an opportunity to continue a child’s physical and social development while providing nutritious meals during long vacation periods from school. It helps children return to school ready to learn.”
Kimmel encourages children in the Woodcrest area to stop in and enjoy a free breakfast and/or lunch.
For more information, Kimmel can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 763-785-5528.
Elyse Kaner is at email@example.com