Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

School offering summer meals

by Rob Ireland

May 24, 2012

WALWORTH — If it wasn’t for the school’s breakfast program, some students probably wouldn’t eat until lunch.

District Administrator Pam Knorr said she is afraid that when the school closes for the summer some students may miss meals.

“We felt that there is a need to ensure that children do not go hungry over the summer,” Knorr said.

That is why the district is offering a summer meals program, which allows all children between the ages of 3 and 18 to eat breakfast and lunch at the school for free.

“When you are hungry you can’t learn, you can’t function,” she said.

Regardless of income, any child who resides within the school district may dine on a hot breakfast between 7 and 8 a.m. Between 8 and 10 a.m. kids, who don’t make it to breakfast, can receive a cereal box to tide them over.

Lunch will be served from noon to 1 p.m. Adults can also eat, but have to pay a nominal fee of $2.50 per meal.

“Approximately 52 percent of our students are on free or reduced lunch this school year,” District Administrator Pam Knorr said. “The summer meal program will bridge a gap for at least two of the meals.”

Knorr said the district attempted to start a summer meals program last year, but didn’t have enough students on free or reduced lunch. The federal threshold is 50 percent of the students need to receive free or reduced lunch, and last year about 48 percent of the students received a subsidized meal.

The money for the program comes from the federal government and local taxpayers aren’t footing the bill through property taxes.

“It is an open site. Every child eats for free regardless of income,” Knorr said.

The program will run for 10 weeks, which is every week of the summer except the week that has the Fourth of July holiday.

Knorr said the district will offer healthy options for the lunch, which includes fruits, vegetables and salads. Other options will include pizza, hamburgers, tacos and corn dogs.

Knorr said foods like pizza are offered because those are items children like, and will eat. However, she added that students will also eat the healthy foods that are offered.

She expects the program will be popular. Every week at the school, she said, a parent will ask the district for assistance with paying for school, field trip and milk fees.

“There isn’t a week where a parent doesn’t come in and ask for help,” she said. “They have either loss their job or have been downsized.”

This year she estimated that between 80 and 90 students eat breakfast at the school. If it wasn’t for the school breakfast, she expects a lot of those students wouldn’t otherwise eat until lunch.

Of course, as a school official, Knorr also wants to add an educational component to the lunch. She plans on having adults, possibly guest community members, come in and read to the students after they eat.