• Leader & Times
Throughout the school year, students are fed during a lunch program. This relieves the burden on families for one meal out of the day.
But when students are out for the summer, the need for a meal continues, so it must be delivered through other means.
As some school districts do, USD 483 is now providing a summer food service program for young people age 1 to 18. Norma Sanchez, school nurse for the Kismet-Plains district, said this is the first year 483 is offering the program, and it is free of charge not just to students in the district but in surrounding communities as well.
“We are starting in two towns and three locations,” she said. “We’re serving out of the Catholic Church in Plains, the Kismet Pavilion, and we’re serving breakfast at the junior high out in the country.”
Sanchez emphasized that those who take advantage of the food service program do not have to be community members.
“They don’t have to be a school district student,” she said. “It’s for absolutely anyone who wants to have a meal.”
Lunch through the program will be provided Monday through Friday starting this Monday and running through the months of June and July.
“Breakfast is 9 a.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays at Southwestern Heights Junior High,” Sanchez said. “Lunch is at the Catholic Church, 11 to 11:30, and at the Kismet Pavilion from 12:15 to 12:45.”
Sanchez said she hopes to make a big impact with the program with the initial try.
“So far, we are just really working hard to get the word out,” she said. “We will send a text alert to our district kids, but that doesn’t mean it’s just singling them. I know that Meade does not have a food service program for the summer. We would totally welcome any Meade kids that would come over as well. That’s kind of the goal is to get not only our communities fully taken care of but surrounding communities that also need.”
Sanchez said for many communities such as the ones represented by USD 483 a summer food service program is a necessary piece to keeping young people fed.
“When I got to talking to one of the Methodist churches, our food pantry person said during the summer, their food pantry is the busiest in the summer than any other part of the year,” she said. “They’re handing out boxes of food to families in the summer more than any other time, so there’s a huge need there. Our school system is in the 70 percentage as far as free and reduced kids. During school, our kids are getting a free meal or a reduced price. Now, that’s not an option because they’re at home, so they’re not getting that nutritional component.”
If the program’s first year proves successful, Sanchez said she is cautiously optimistic about its continuation in future years.
“If we can get our numbers here, I’m confident that this’ll be a sustainable that we’ll do from now on,” she said. “We’re real nervous about our numbers. We want to have successful numbers. We’ve put in a lot of work to get this going.”
Partnering with USD 483 is the Kismet Plains Rec Commission.
“It’s a committee of board members from Kismet and Plains, and they have their own set of funds that are backing this up,” Sanchez said.