LOGANSPORT, Ind. (AP) - Cass County schools and churches served more than 10,000 meals to local students during the summer months, filling a need and stomachs of many area kids.
The county had a total of six locations for free meals through the federally funded Summer Food Service Program, where kids 18 years old and younger could come and eat a free lunch or breakfast during June and July. The program wrapped up last week.
Kelley Lease, food service director at Logansport Community School Corp., said workers gave out almost 4,400 lunches and served 2,300 breakfasts to corporation students during the month of June. The program, which serviced summer school students and walk-ins at the three open locations, lasted until July 8.
Close to 56 percent of Logansport students and nearly 41 percent of kids at Southeastern School Corp. received free or reduced-priced meals last school year. That number is even higher at some LCSC schools, such as Columbia elementary and middle schools on the city’s north side.
“(We’re) just making sure they have access to healthy meals all summer long,” Lease said. “That’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”
At Southeastern’s three summer lunch sites, 2,554 kids received free meals. Even though that’s lower than last year’s total of about 2,700 students, the program lasted seven days less than last summer and ended on July 21, the corporation’s food service director, Lisa Adams said.
Adams said Lewis Cass Jr.-Sr. High School had the most participation, much of which happened during summer camps, such as volleyball and football camp. In addition to those students, Adams said many kids visited the high school, and the other two locations, just for the free lunch.
“They just keep coming back. So you know they need it,” Adams said. “You think about things you do in your life and in your career, and this is just a good thing.”
Volunteers with Vineard Community Church and Cross-Wind United Methodist Church prepare and hand out sack lunches during the months of June and July at Franklin and Fairview elementary schools, parts of Logansport not reached through the corporation’s meal program.
Vineyard started the program 10 years ago. Andrea Vernon, the church’s administrative and ministries assistant pastor, said she’s seen more kids come and grab a lunch this summer compared to the nearly 1,100 children in 2015. They hand out meals to almost 100 kids a day.
“They are waiting on us to get there,” Vernon said, adding that the “well-mannered and appreciative” kids help set up tables and get food out of the cars. “Sometimes they just want somebody to talk to them, too.”
The church serves at Franklin on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Vernon said that area of town is economically depressed. The school is also nestled between many homes on the west side.
“Sometimes the kids will tell us that that is the only thing that they have to eat that day,” Vernon said. “That’s it. That’s what their meal is.”
At Fairview, Cross-Wind serves about 20 kids on Mondays and 30 on Wednesdays, volunteer Diane Waddups said on Monday, July 25, while handing out sack lunches to students outside the elementary school. The church started its program in 2015.
Lease said Logansport is looking at options to expand its lunch program to other parts of the city for next year, such as Huston and Tower parks. Adams added that Southeastern is riding the momentum the lunch program has created in its second year.
“We’ve heard nothing but good about it,” Adams said. “To me, if you serve one kid, you’re making a difference.”
Source: (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune, https://bit.ly/2aNvKnd
Information from: Pharos-Tribune, https://www.pharostribune.com
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