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Food Programs Still Available for Students Even After School is Out

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/food-programs-still-available-students-even-after-school-out_39192.mp3

For some impoverished students in the Ozarks, three meals a day are hard to come by, even school isn't in session. To combat child hunger, different non-profits around the community, as well as Springfield Public Schools, offer different meal plans for students. These meal plans provide them with fresh and healthy food options all throughout the summer. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark shares details.

 

Residents of Springfield are probably familiar with the free and reduced lunch program that is provided during the school year by the public schools. What some may not know is that the public school system also provides a similar food program during the month of June. For any student that desires an extra bite to eat, they can get breakfast and lunch for free at eight different school sites around the city. Teresa Bledsoe, a spokesperson with Springfield Public Schools, says the program is for any student that lives in designated school neighborhoods.

 “To be able to serve the lunch program and receive the funding, they have to be provided in a high free and reduced lunch area. So each of these schools where we are serving meals are above fifty percent. We are serving breakfast and lunch at Delaware, Mann, McGregor, Weaver and Williams elementary schools, Carver and Pipkin middle schools and Central High School.”

She says at the elementary and middle schools, they serve food Monday through Thursday, and at Central, meals are served Monday through Friday.

 “They can find the serving schedules for each location, the times for breakfast and lunch, they can access those on our district website at springfieldpublicschoolsmo.org.”

That meal program ends June 28th.

Different non-profits around the area also do their fair share of helping out hungry kids. Ozarks Food Harvest has KidsCafe, its annual summer kids food program. KidsCafe spans to 15 different sites in nine counties around the Ozarks. Lindsey Neddenriep is a spokesperson with Ozarks Food Harvest.

 “In Springfield, a couple of our sites include National Heights Baptist Church and also the Springfield Community Center. In addition to that, we regularly serve our pantries and feeding sites in our 28 counties, including Greene County. Agencies such as Victory Mission.”

Members of High Street Baptist Church also are supporting children from Weller Elementary. Over 90 percent of the student population is on the free and reduced program, according to High Street Missions Intern, Nick Mills. For the past seven years, the church has put together Power Packs that are filled with food for kids during the school year. They provide Power Packs every couple of weeks.

“Marilyn Monroe, the principal at Weller, asked if we might be able to extend Power Packs throughout the summer. So we looked at our finances and donations and our volunteers and saw if we were able to meet this need, and we decided we were able to. Right now we have about 40 kids on the list to deliver Power Packs to, and we’ve started doing that, and we’re going to continue doing that throughout the summer.”     

Mills says every May, the school year ends. But student hunger stays the same. Neddenriep agrees.

“I always tell people that hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation. So during the school year, there are thousands of children in our area that rely on free and reduced priced school lunches and breakfast at school, but during the summer months, many parents don’t know who to turn to to find that support.”

She says anyone can donate on their website any time of day. You can also find an online listing of all the summer food programs for kids. Any dollar given, she says, is equal to ten dollars worth of foods.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.