Westonka schools food program offers free lunch

By Blaze Fugina Community Editor

The Westonka Public School District this summer is offering free breakfast and lunch to any residents ages 18 and under in the district area.

Deb Bailey, the administrative assistant for food and nutrition services at Westonka Public Schools said that both breakfast and lunch is served at Mound Westonka High School on most days Monday through Friday.

"The program is a U.S.D.A. (United States Department of Agriculture) program," she said. "We qualified for it through the free and reduced lunch program."

The program is the Summer Food Service Program, and this is the first year that the district is able to provide food to students during the summer. Adults with disabilities who are enrolled in district programs are also eligible for the meals.

Bailey said that the Westonka Public School District qualified for the program after 51 percent of the students in the district had free or reduced lunch during the school year.

The Summer Food Service Program is offered to sites that qualify based on poverty levels. According to the U.S.D.A. website, "open sites operate in low-income areas where at least half of the children come from families with incomes at or below 185 percent of the Federal poverty level, making them eligible for free and reduced-price school meals."

Before knowing about the program, Bailey was talking with the state about what programs could be used in the district. That is when the state suggested the program.

So far this year students have been showing up in higher numbers than estimated for the Summer Food Service Program. An estimated 70 kids attend the breakfast servings, while around 150 students attend lunch. This is slightly more than the estimates that Bailey said she gave the state before the program began.

"When we estimated, we said breakfast would have around 40 kids, and during lunch we would have 146 kids," she said.

Bailey also added that, when summer school begins for Hilltop students, she expects an increase to up to 170 kids for lunch and 70 for breakfast.

"We haven’t had any problems," she said. "We haven’t had any kids sticking around too long afterwards or anything like that."

Bailey said they hope they will qualify again next year. The program hinges on the amount of students in the district who qualify for the free or reduced lunch program.

"If we qualify, I am sure that we’ll do it again," she said. "In March we’ll know if we qualify again next summer.

The Summer Food Program serves meals Monday through Friday until Aug. 24. Breakfast is served between 7:45 and 9 a.m., and lunch is served between 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. at Mound Westonka High School.

For more information, contact Deb Bailey at 952-491-8088.