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Austin Public Schools: Lunch program returning

By Mary Weikum

Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Austin Public Schools

“Poverty is a very complicated issue, but feeding a child isn’t.” — Jeff Bridges

Childhood hunger contributes significantly to developmental, behavioral and academic problems. With nearly 60 percent of students attending Austin Public Schools qualifying for free or reduced price lunches, it is especially important to ensure nourishing lunches are provided in the summer months so our students can return to school in September ready to learn.

For the ninth consecutive year, Austin Public Schools will be hosting the Summer Lunch Program. This is a federally-funded program that provides a free meal to children.  All children ages 1-18 are encouraged to participate in the program regardless of economic need. There are activities provided, such as a traveling library and activities with the Scouts. This is also a great spot to meet and catch up with friends.

We will have a two-week rotating menu cycle that provides lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as whole grain rich breads, a protein and milk. Included in this cycle are hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, pizza and max stix … all of which are  favorites of our students. There will also be cold sandwich options daily, such as tuna salad, turkey, ham and peanut butter and jelly.

Small children should be accompanied and supervised by an adult. Meals are available for adults to purchase for $3.85.  Adults are not allowed to eat from a child’s tray and, except for fruits and vegetables, food is not allowed to be carried out.

Sites that have summer enrichment programming will have free breakfast and lunch served to the students attending specific programs. These sites are closed and only for those students enrolled in the programming.

The following two sites are open to the general public from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday-Friday:

•I.J. Holton Intermediate School, 1800 Fourth Ave. SE, from June 12 to Aug. 25.

•Austin High School, 301 Fourth St. NW, from June 12 to July 28.

Please note Austin High School will be closed in August so we can do some construction in the cafeteria and both sites will be closed on July Fourth.

Since we began this program, we have served over 250,000 free meals to the children in our community. This is a testament to the care and concern we all have for our kids. Children should not be hungry…it really is that simple.