Summer meal programs serving about 450 students daily

Keeping school-age children fed during the summer months remains the aim of summer meal programs in the Holton and Royal Valley school districts, which are currently serving a combined total of about 450 meals a day.

“This year’s summer food program started off strong in the Jackson County community,” said Holton food service director Wilma Shupe. “Numbers have started to dwindle in the past week or so, but this is to be expected with the upcoming Independence Day holiday.”

But while Holton school officials are optimistic about this year’s program continuing through the end of July, Royal Valley superintendent Aaric Davis believes it may be the last year for the program, which ends this Friday in his district — especially if this ends up being the last year for a summer school program in the district.

“If we don’t have a summer school program next year, there probably won’t be a summer meal program, because it doesn’t make sense to bring in two staff members to make 20 meals,” said Davis, who noted that Royal Valley’s summer school program is funded through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) program, created to help schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools receiving ESSER funds are required to spend them by Sept. 30 of this year, although the U.S. Department of Education recently announced that state agencies, school districts and other recipients of ESSER funds can request an extension that will allow them to use or liquidate obligated program funds by March of 2026, it was reported.

The Summer Food Service Program is a federally-funded, state-administered program operating under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It provides participating school districts with funds to provide breakfasts and lunches at no charge to all children age 18 and under, regardless of whether they are students in the district offering the meals.

That means students in the Jackson Heights district, which does not participate in the program, may receive free breakfasts and lunches through the programs at Holton, Royal Valley or any other participating district, and during July, Royal Valley students may also receive free meals from Holton’s program.

The Holton district’s summer meal program allows students and families to pick up prepared breakfasts and lunches Monday through Friday at three locations — from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Countryside Park in Holton, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Holton Elementary School and from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at the Denison Community Center.

Meals include the day’s lunch and the next day’s breakfast, with extra breakfasts and lunches provided on Friday to tide kids over through the weekend. Meals will not be served next Thursday and Friday, July 4 and 5, because of the Independence Day holiday, but Shupe said the program will provided “double and triple lunches so kids are provided enough food to have meals through the holiday weekend.”

To read the rest of the article, please subscribe to The Holton Recorder.

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141


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