More sites to offer free lunches to Wichita kids over spring break

Courtesy of Partners for Wichita’s Facebook page

An all-volunteer effort will serve lunches to Wichita children at 16 sites during spring break next week.

Partners for Wichita and Kansas Food Bank are joining with individual volunteers to provide and serve about 5,000 meals during its “Filling the Gap Lunches for Kids” program, said Danielle Ramirez, coordinator of the effort for Partners for Wichita.

This spring break – Monday through March 21 for Wichita public schools – will have two more sites than last year.

“Unfortunately, there’s a higher need,” Ramirez said.

About 77 percent of Wichita students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, up from 75 percent last summer, according to the Kansas Department of Education.

In addition, records show that nearly a quarter of young people in the Wichita community are “food insecure,” Ramirez said, which means they “don’t necessarily know where their next meal will come from.”

Box lunches obtained from the food bank are served from noon to 1 p.m. The lunches are free to youths 18 and younger. No registration is needed.

To enhance the meals, the group is requesting donations of healthy snack items – raisins, snack bars, dried fruit, wrapped crackers and other items that don’t require refrigeration.

Donations can be taken to the food bank or to the sites between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. weekdays. Contributions to help purchase lunches should be sent to Partners for Wichita at 925 N. Waco, Wichita, KS 67203 or to the Kansas Food Bank, 1919 E. Douglas, Wichita, KS 67211. Designate “Filling the Gap Lunches” on the check’s memo line.

For more information, e-mail or call Ramirez at 316-393-5889.

Sites where lunches will be served by areas of town:

Ramirez said volunteers served more than 4,600 meals over spring break last year. “So that gives us reason to just continue doing what we’re doing, along with the stories from the young people who come through the program,” she said.

“And the parents – you can just sometimes tell on their faces, the look of relief,” she said. “Especially on the Fridays, we give out an extra meal for the weekend, and they are just so happy to be able to have somewhere to turn.”

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