Free meals offered through the summer

OSCEOLA/MECOSTA COUNTIES — Students are out of classes for the summer, signaling the beginning of another season in the area.

Through a federal meal program, children age 18 and younger can find a free lunch in multiple places throughout Osceola and Mecosta counties, including at Evart Elementary School, Reed City Middle School, Big Rapids Middle School, Morley Stanwood Elementary School and Louise Kinney Pavilion in downtown Morley.

Children do not need to be students of the local school district to receive a meal. In many of these locations, parents can enjoy lunch with their kids at a minimal price.

Evart

Running from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, families will be able to find a free meal for their youngsters at Evart Elementary School, 515 N. Cedar St. The program began June 4 and will continue through Aug. 10, but will be closed July 4.

New this year, families will find the lunch tables in the halls, instead of in the cafeteria.

“The tables are in the halls to entice kids into the library,” said Aaron Wetters, Evart Elementary Title I teacher. “We wanted to link the reading program to the meal program to entice students to read. They can take AR (accelerated reader) tests and enter raffles.”

Wetters said parents can read to younger participants for their children to be entered into the raffles. Evart Public Schools students also can check out books to take home, but those who are not in the EPS system will need to read books at the school. These students also can be entered to win raffle prizes. A small prize will be drawn each week and larger prize drawings will take place every three weeks.

On Fridays, families can take home a free book from one of the bins in the hallway.

“We started this last week and each day, it’s getting bigger. I’m excited,” Wetters said.

Reed City

While a free summer lunch isn’t new to the Reed City area, program participants will find lunch in a new location this year.

Due to construction at the elementary school, lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the middle school, 233 W. Church Ave.

Lunches will be offered through the week through Aug. 17, but will be closed the week of July 2 through 6.

“I know a lot of families rely on this program,” said Tricia Connell, Reed City Area Public Schools dining services director. “This is great to offer this to the community.”

Big Rapids

Another program offering a free lunch while encouraging reading began June 11, and will run through Aug. 17. The Big Rapids free summer meal program will offer lunch and activities from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the middle school, 500 N. Warren Ave. The program will be available Mondays through Fridays, but will be closed July 4 to 6 in observance of the holiday.

“The kids get a good meal. They get out of the house a bit, have fun and meet up with friends,” Barb Ward, Big Rapids Public School food service secretary, said about the program. “It’s social. The kids have a fun time here.”

Those who get a meal at the middle school also can participate in activity days, craft days, gym days and find a book in the reading room.

Morley 

Two sites will be open for lunch for residents and visitors in Morley. Running through Aug. 9, lunch will be served at Morley Stanwood Elementary School, 4808 Northland Drive, and at the mobile site across the street from Wee Bee’s Party Store, at Louise Kinney Pavilion.

Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the elementary and from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the mobile site. Lunches are available Mondays through Thursdays at each site, with the exception of July 4 and 5.