Area schools offer summer lunch programsPublished 9:16am Thursday, June 12, 2014
By MONA SHAND
Michigan News Connection
The start of summer vacation means carefree days for many Michigan kids, but for low-income children it can also mean less access to regular meals. That’s why the push is on to let Michigan families know where and how they can find free meals this summer, via the federal Summer Nutrition Programs.
Locally, children 18 years of age or under can eat for free at Brandywine and Buchanan high schools.
Brandywine High School will offer free lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday beginning July 14 and running through Aug. 22.
Buchanan High School’s summer food program began Monday and will run through Aug. 29. The school offers free breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m. and free lunch from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Suzette Hendershott, food services director at Buchanan, said they served about 110 kids at lunch Wednesday.
Marybeth Laisure, the director of Michigan Hunger Solutions, says participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs was up slightly in Michigan last year, but that far too many kids are still going hungry.
“It’s just not enough. There’s still too many kids and families unaware of these free programs during the summertime,” says Laisure. “Once school ends, everybody knows those low-income kids may not get a meal, or a nutritious meal.”
Laisure stresses no registration is required to take advantage of the program, and that hungry kids simply need to show up at one of the participating sites around the state. To find one, residents can call the United Way at 211, log on to the Michigan Department of Education website, or download the free Summer Food Rocks app, available in Android, iPhone, and iPad formats.
The Summer Nutrition Programs typically provide free meals at participating schools, parks, libraries and non-profits, and according to Laisure often feed more than just kids’ appetites.
“Some of them have enrichment activities, so it’s a place for them to go,” says Laisure. “It’s safe, it’s supervised, there’s a nutritious meal, activities going on, and something fun to do in the summertime.”
Last summer the Summer Nutrition Programs provided meals for nearly three million children around the nation on an average day, including more than 67,000 children in Michigan.