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40 sites will offer free meals to Wichita children this summer

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, May 20, 2012, at 6:21 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, May 26, 2012, at 7:28 a.m.

More information

Summer lunch locations

Forty sites around Wichita will serve free meals to children as part of the federally funded Summer Food Service Program. The program begins May 30 and runs through July 27 at most locations. Some sites will offer both breakfast and lunch; others will offer only one meal. Four will offer an afternoon snack. Adults can buy a meal for $3.35.

For details about dates and times at each site and which meals they will offer, visit www.nutrition.usd259.org.

NORTHWEST WICHITA

•  Benton Elementary, 338 S. Woodchuck Lane

•  Black Elementary, 1045 High

•  Cloud Elementary, 1212 W. 25th St. North

•  Dodge Elementary, 4801 W. Second St.

•  First Church of the Brethren, 1103 N. Jefferson

•  Franklin Elementary, 214 S. Elizabeth

•  Inter-Faith Ministries, 902 N. Market

•  L’Ouverture Elementary, 1539 Ohio

•  Levy Special Education Center, 400 N. Woodchuck

•  Park Elementary, 1025 N. Main

•  Pleasant Valley Middle School, 2220 W. 29th St. North

•  West Side Christian Church, 1819 W. Douglas

•  Woodland Elementary, 1705 Salina

•  YMCA Central Branch, 402 N. Market

NORTHEAST WICHITA

•  Adams Elementary, 1002 N. Oliver

•  Atwater Neighborhood City Hall, 2755 E. 19th St.

•  Boys & Girls Club Northeast, 2400 N. Opportunity Dr.

•  Brotherhood Presbyterian, 2328 E. 13th St.

•  Chisholm Trail Elementary, 6015 Independence

•  College Hill United Methodist Church, 2930 E. First St.

•  Dellrose United Methodist Church, 1502 N. Dellrose

•  Jackson Elementary, 2717 N. Woodlawn

•  Little Early Childhood Education Center, 1613 Piatt

•  St. Mark United Methodist Church, 1525 N. Lorraine

•  St. Mark’s Church of God in Christ, 1018 N. Dellrose

•  Urban League of Kansas, 2418 E. Ninth St.

•  YMCA North Branch, 3330 N. Woodlawn

SOUTHWEST WICHITA

•  Aley Park, 1802 S. Seneca

•  Christian Faith Centre, 1130 S. Broadway

•  Enterprise Elementary, 3605 S. Gold

•  Harry Street Elementary, 1605 S. Market

•  Kelly Elementary, 3143 S. Millwood

•  Linwood Elementary, 1654 S. Hydraulic

•  Woodman Elementary, 2500 Hiram

SOUTHEAST WICHITA

•  Allen Elementary, 1881 S. Elpyco

•  Boys & Girls Club Oaklawn, 4902 S. Clifton

•  Colvin Elementary, 2820 S. Roosevelt

•  Griffith Elementary, 1802 S. Bluff

•  Never Alone Crisis Support Ministry, 4930 E. Lincoln

•  Seltzer Elementary, 11660 E. Lincoln

‘Filling the Gap’

A nonprofit group will offer free lunches for children on weekdays from July 30 to Aug. 10, filling the gap between the end of the school district’s summer lunch program and the start of school.

Free lunches will be served from noon to 1 p.m. at the following locations:

•  Atwater Neighborhood City Hall, 2755 E. 19th St.

•  Colvin Neighborhood City Hall, 2820 S. Roosevelt

•  Evergreen Neighborhood City Hall, 2700 N. Woodland

•  Stanley Neighborhood City Hall, 1749 S. Martinson

•  Dellrose United Methodist Church, 1502 N. Dellrose

•  Fairview Christian Church, 1650 Fairview

•  Inter-Faith Ministries, 930 N. Market

•  St. Anne Catholic Church, 2801 S. Seneca

•  Victory Baptist Community of Faith, 812 S. Oliver

The effort, organized by Partners for Wichita, accepts donations of cash and food such as oranges, bananas, fruit cups and snack bars. For information about how to make a donation, e-mail partnersforwichita@cox.net or call 316-263-0810.

Wichita students will head home for summer break this week, but many school cafeterias and other sites will continue to serve meals to hungry children.

Forty sites around the city will offer free breakfasts, lunches or afternoon snacks as part of the Summer Food Service Program, which begins May 30.

The program is run by the Wichita school district and paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“There are families who rely on school meals during the school year, and then in the summertime they don’t have that same kind of support,” said Vicki Hoffman, director of nutrition services for the Wichita district.

“This is a great way for a parent to know that their child is getting a nutritious meal.”

The need is apparent and growing.

Nearly 96,000 lunches were served at Wichita sites last June and July, an increase of more than 10 percent over the previous summer. The number of breakfasts increased almost 19 percent, with 30,612 served.

The program is open to all children under 18 but targets those who are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches during the school year. No proof of residency or income is required for the summer meals.

Nearly three-quarters of the 50,000 students who attend Wichita schools are eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunches.

To qualify for free school meals, families must have an income below 130 percent of the poverty level. Those with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals. For the current school year, 130 percent of the poverty level is $29,055 for a family of four; 185 percent is $41,348.

And once again this summer, a nonprofit group will extend the free-lunch program for two weeks in August, offering meals at several sites after the federally funded program ends.

The all-volunteer effort, “Filling the Gap,” will serve lunches to children at nine locations — neighborhood city halls and churches — from July 30 to Aug. 10.

The two-week time period between when the summer food program ends and when school begins “is a definite gap for those children in our community in need of nutritious meals,” said the Rev. Sally Fahrenthold, a retired pastor. She is heading the project for Partners for Wichita, a nondenominational nonprofit.

The group served about 3,500 meals during two weeks last August and another 2,400 over spring break in March, Fahrenthold said. She expects the program to serve at least 4,000 meals this summer.

Unlike the summer lunch program in June and July, the Filling the Gap program doesn’t receive any public money, relying instead on donations and volunteers.

“We found that the children are indeed hungry or at risk of being hungry,” she said. “Sometimes their parents would bring them because they knew they were having to make a choice between providing a good meal or paying other bills such as rent or electricity.”

At the end of the program last year, children were encouraged to sign notes of thanks for the volunteers and host sites, she said.

“Lots of them wrote little messages like, ‘Thank you for the good food,’ or ‘Thank you for being a friend,’ ” Fahrenthold said. “It’s obvious they appreciated the program and had a good time.”

The Partners for Wichita program once again will buy non-perishable lunches and shelf-stable cartons of milk from the Kansas Food Bank, said Debi Kreutzman, community relations manager for the food bank.

She said her organization is excited that the program will expand to even more locations and reach more children this summer.

“We’re definitely excited to be a part of this again,” Kreutzman said. Summer — or even the two weeks in early August — “can be a long time for a child who is in need of a meal.”

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com.

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