The Summer Food Service Program continues again this summer at local schools. The USDA developed the program to provide healthy lunches to children during the summer months. Teaming up with state agencies across the nation, their goal is to assist communities that demonstrate the need have a lunch program during the off-school season. At least 50 percent of the children living in these communities are eligible for the free or reduced price lunches during the school year, and the worry is that these children are missing meals when they aren’t at school.

Designated sites such as local schools, campsites, colleges or other organizations become sponsors. These sponsors then provide the free lunches themselves or contract vendors to come to their site. Each sponsor is reimbursed by the government for the lunches provided. The community benefits from the free lunches for families and the jobs that are created for workers that would ordinarily be off work during the summer.

Lunches include a choice of hot lunch or handmade sub sandwich station, salad/fruit bar and milk. Many choices include whole wheat buns or whole wheat crusts. Children 18 and under as well as disabled persons under 26 are free. Adults can purchase lunches for $3.25, which is a great deal since it’s cheaper than any fast food meal around.

Reed City’s lunches will once again be provided by Chartwells in the Norman Elementary cafeteria from June 13 through Aug. 26, except on July 1 and 4. It will be open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Genie Knapp reports that they served 4,780 children and 682 adults last summer. Having two playgrounds on site, lunchtime became a fun daily outing for many families.

Evart Public Schools is moving their lunch location to the middle school this summer. It will run weekdays, June 13 through Aug. 12, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Located at the elementary school last year, it was also part of their summer school program and it’s estimated they served about 75 to 90 children a day. Staff is unsure how moving the location will affect numbers this summer. They are hoping families are still able to bring their children to enjoy the lunches.

Stop in at the school cafeteria closest to you and enjoy a delicious lunch with your family, after all, where else can you feed your kids for free!