There is such a thing as free lunch this summer at USD 250, and the more free lunches the district can provide, the better.
"The importance overall is to continue to feed kids when school is not in session," said USD 250 child nutrition director Susanna Thyer.
Providing nutritious meals through the majority of the summer is the goal, and it is made a reality through United States Department of Agriculture funding, which provides the summer meal opportunity for school districts with more than 50 percent of the students on free or reduced lunch throughout the remainder of the year.
"Any districts that have 50 percent free and reduced on a regular basis would qualify to offer the summer lunch program," Thyer said.
Unlike during the school year, participation in the summer lunch program is not limited by income qualification.
No applications, or even reservations, are needed.
"We're offering this meal. Please take advantage of it," Thyer said.
"The program itself feeds all children under the age of 18," she said. "The great thing about the program is that it encompasses the younger ones."
She said anyone from birth to age 18, and not just students of USD 250 or residents of the district, may eat.
"They do not have to be students of USD 250," she said.
The summer meal program is offered at all of the USD 250 school locations, with the exception of Lakeside Elementary, for at least part of the summer, and the duration at each site is closely tied to the summer programs taking place in the building providing the meal.
"We try to work the program around our summer schools and other programs," Thyer said. "We run our programs in conjunction with the programs that are on site."
This summer, breakfast and lunch are being served at Westside, Meadowlark, George Nettels, and Pittsburg High School Monday through Friday through June, and at Pittsburg Community Middle School Monday through Thursday during June.
Page 2 of 2 - Meal services at Meadowlark will continue through July 12.
Westside will conclude its summer meal program Aug. 2 and the final summer meals will be served at George Nettels on Aug. 8, shortly before the beginning of the school year.
"This is the largest number of schools that we have held the program at," Thyer said, adding that it began with two elementary school sites a number of years ago and has expanded to sites where other programs are taking place and meals may be needed.
"We do open our doors to many area programs," Thyer said, adding that those include district programs such as summer schools, programs through the 21st Century Grant and area programs such as the YMCA Adventure Camp.
The meals benefit everyone from families who come to eat to students in the camps and programs to high school athletes who may not have time to go home for meals between conditioning programs and summer jobs.
"Our main goal is just to feed kids when school is not in session," Thyer said.
Parents and other adults also may eat if they want.
"The cost for those meals is $3.50 for lunch," Thyer said.
The program also gives food service employees the opportunity for additional summer income, with each site utilizing up to two employees on the days meals are offered.
"My goal is to accommodate all of our staff who want to work," Thyer said.
She also emphasized that the district is benefited by serving as many meals as possible.
"It's reimbursed per meal served," Thyer said.
Meal times and additional information can be found on the USD 250 Web site under the news tab, and then by clicking on the headline "Summer Food Program Feeds Kids for Free."