Free lunches available this summer for local children
Free lunches are available for local children each weekday this month at the commons area of Holton Elementary School, it has been announced.
From 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Monday through Friday, children 18 years of age and younger will be able to receive a shelf stable meal that includes a protein, a grain, a vegetable and milk for free.
No registration is required for the program, which is operated by Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas as part of the federally-funded USDA Summer Food Service Program.
During the 2017 summer lunch program, 1,482 meals were served to children in Holton, and 200 meals were served to adults, said Camille Pickhinke, parish and Community Outreach Coordinator for Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas.
Through additional funds raised, adults accompanying a child to the lunch, such as a parent, grandparent or babysitter, can also receive a free meal, Pickhinke said.
Jackie McAsey serves as the site coordinator for the lunches at HES, and a group of high school students and recent graduates have volunteered to prepare and serve the meals each day this month. Last year, an average of 65 children were served lunch each day, it was reported.
Some examples of meals include chicken salad, crackers, applesauce, juice and choice of milk and chips and dip, crackers, salsa/cheese sauce, sunflower seeds, juice and choice of milk.
In addition to the lunch, each child can also take home a piece of fruit each day as a snack, it was reported. The volunteers also hold drawings during each lunch, giving away small prizes to the students.
In Jackson County, 41.5 percent of students were approved for free or reduced lunches at school during the 2017-18 school year. One in seven people in the country and one in five in Kansas are considered food insecure, which means they lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food, Pickhinke said.
In Jackson County, 1,500 people (11.2 percent) and 580 children (17.2 percent) are considered food insecure.
The free meal site will run through Friday, June 29, at the Holton Elementary School, and Pickhinke said that Catholic Charities plans to continue to host free lunches in July at the Holton Parks & Rec building in downtown Holton but is seeking a site coordinator and volunteers for that site.
“The coordinator would manage the volunteers and be the point of contact,” Pickhinke said. “We want to help meet that need and make it easier for moms and dads to feed their children this summer.”
Those interested in serving as the site coordinator or a volunteer during the month of July are asked to contact Pickhinke at 913-433-2083 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wetmore and Goff communities are also hosting food programs this summer for children.