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Free summer meals available
Schools will serve meals in June and July
Foodservice staff at Jefferson Elementary stand ready to greet families with a smile and a hot meal (dine-in or to-go) during the 2022 Summer Meal Program.

June Summer Food Program Locations:

• EISENHOWER: 1212 Garfield

• JEFFERSON: 2716 24th St

• LINCOLN: 5630 Broadway

• PARK: 1801 Williams

• RILEY: 1515 10th St

July Summer Food Program Locations:

• EISENHOWER: 1212 Garfield

• PARK: 1801 Williams

• RILEY: 1515 10th St

Starting Monday, June 6, Great Bend USD 428 will offer free meal packages for all children in the community during the months of  June and July with multiple pickup locations.

Children up to 18 years old can participate in the Summer Food Program. Breakfast and lunch will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at the five elementary schools, Eisenhower, Jefferson, Lincoln, Park, and Riley, from June 6-30.

There will be no meals served on July 4 but the free service will continue July 5-29 at Eisenhower, Park and Riley schools. Even though Jefferson and Lincoln schools will be closed, students are free to get meals at any of the open buildings.

In both June and July, children will have the option to eat lunch on-site or take the meal package to go.

Food Services Director Kristy Alvord said child nutrition is important to consider in the summer months, and she encourages all families to utilize the convenient, accessible and free program this summer.

“This is a great opportunity,” Alvord said. “As parents, we are busy in the summer months. This is an easy, fast, and free meal package available to anyone 18 and under.

“This is also a great way to welcome younger children into a school building, teach them about school meals, and give them nutrition education while enjoying lunch. For the soon-to-be kindergartners, it will give them an idea of what to expect when they start school in August,” she said.

Parent pick-up permits

Parents/guardians must bring all children to their preferred meal location the first time they attend this summer. However, parents may then ask for a pick-up permit that allows them to pick up future meals without the children present.

The rules for the permits have changed slightly this summer. Permits can only be used at the location where they are issued, meaning that parents cannot switch their pick-up location. Permits for families utilizing Jefferson and Lincoln in June can be reissued for another location in July.

Changes expected in August

This program is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services. Meals are free to all children, with no income guidelines and no registration or paperwork.

The Summer Food Service Program is different from the USDA’s School Nutrition Program (SNP) that the district follows during the school year. During the pandemic, the SNP began offering free breakfast and lunch to all students in the schools throughout the academic year. Alvord said USD 428 began serving more breakfasts as a result, a trend she hopes will continue.

However, Congress declined to extend funding for free meals to all for the 2022-2023 school year.

The SNP does, however, help schools offer free or reduced-price meals to low-income families who apply for them.

“This year more than ever it will be important for families to get the meal application completed during enrollment or before school starts,” Alvord said. They will also be able to fill out the application online starting July 11.

But for the summer, the free meals continue to be available to anyone from 1-18 years old.

For more information, call the USD 428 Central Kitchen, 620-793-1540. 

Other communities

Area schools will serve meals at the following times:

Ellinwood High School cafeteria, 210 E. 2nd St., 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Ellinwood Swimming Pool, 512 West 6th, afternoon snack, 2:40-5:50 p.m.

Hoisington Middle School, 360 W. 11th St., 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Central Plains USD 112: 

- Central Plains Grade School, 600 S. Main, Holyrood, 11-11:30 a.m.

- Central Plains Jr/Sr High School, 700 W. Albro St., Claflin, 12:15-12:45 p.m.

- Bushton, old middle school 500 S. Main, 11:45 a.m. to noon.

- Lorraine, Baptist Church parking lot, 238 N. Main, 11:15-11:30 a.m.

- Wilson, Czech Community Kitchen, 2505 Ave. 5, 11:45-12:15 p.m.