The Summer Food Service Program is a federally funded, state administered program that reimburses program operators who serve free healthy meals and snacks to children and teens in low-income areas. Great Bend USD 428 offered breakfast and lunch at five elementary schools in June and also provided snacks at the Great Bend Public Library. The program is at fewer locations in July and doesn’t include breakfast, but it will continue.
From July 1-26 (excluding July 4 and 5), Park Elementary School will serve the free lunches from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Also on those days, the Great Bend Public Library will serve free snacks from 3:30-4 p.m.
The lunches and snacks are free to anyone 18 years old or younger. Adults can buy a lunch for $3.50.
The meals are not just for lower-income families. There’s no paperwork to fill out.
Not every community offers something like this, although many do. Some programs operate independent of federal funding.
Schools also feed children throughout the year, when the free and reduced-price meals are based on income.
Food insecurity is an issue for 1 in 8 Americans, equating to 40 million Americans including more than 12 million children, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
USDA defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle. HealthyPeople.gov defines it as the disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money and other resources.
Even though the summer meal program is for everyone, it most certainly is helping someone who faces food insecurity. For this and other reasons, the program benefits our community.