Five hundred plus meals a day to be served to hungry Newton Children

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By Adam Strunk

If you can’t get the kids to the food, bring the food for the kids.

That idea, in the form of a mobile food program, resulted in 200 more Newton children being fed a meal each day, last summer.
Starting June 4, the Newton School District will again open up its Summer Food Program. The program offers breakfast and lunch at Sunset Elementary until July 20 for community children in need of food.

“I think a lot of times during the summer, students don’t get the normal breakfast and lunch meals that the school provides,” Elaine Gaeddert, director of food services for the districts said. “We have a lot of free and reduced students. I want to make sure those meals are provided for whoever needs meals.”

Last year, the program fed on average 104 breakfasts a day at Sunset Elementary and 225 lunches.

The program worked, but Gaeddert said she knew that a lot of children in the community weren’t able to make the walk to the school.

“I thought there has to be a way to reach more kids,” she said. “With bussing not viable anymore, I thought maybe we could go to them.

She coordinated and added a route for two school vehicles to visit locations in Newton, in hopes of feeding more children.

“I just picked some sites that would have a lot of participation.”

The first year of the program resulted in an average of 220 more meals being served.

“They are always very polite and thank my staff for providing meals,” she said. “Once I start posting on Facebook all the information the sites that are available and what time, I get a lot of feedback and am very appreciative.”

Gaeddert will continue the mobile program this year and thinks it will again increase the number of children served.

The food program is funded by a federal program to make food available to children. At the end of the year, Gaeddert is reimbursed for the costs of the meals. She said not all districts participate in such a program.

“We were actually one of the first ones to do it and we’ve been doing it ever since,” she said. “It just provides meals for needy kids that would normally not be able to get those meals.”

Gaeddert said she’s involved in the program, as well as four food service staff at Sunset Elementary and two people each in the district’s two mobile food units.

All of that effort resulted in approximately 550 meals served a day, last year.

“Just because school ends doesn’t mean we don’t have hungry children out there,” she said, adding that children are not screened before receiving a meal. “A lot of times those school meals are the only meals the students get.”

The meals at Sunset school are close to regular school lunches, Gaeddert said. Sack lunches often include a sandwich, chips and some sort of fresh vegetable.

Gaeddert said adults also use the program as well, paying a small fee for food. She said sometimes, the program serves up to 20 adults a day.

Breakfast at Sunset is served at 8:30 a.m., and ends at 9. Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., and ends at 12:30 p.m.

Sunset Elementary: 

Breakfast – 8:30-9 a.m.

Lunch – 11:30-12:30

Mobile Food Unit 1

Springlake Water Park – 11:30 a.m. -12 p.m.

Chisholm (Shalom Church outdoors) 12:30-1 p.m.

Plumbrook Park (Cherry Hills area) 400 Brookside Dr. 1:30-2 p.m.

Mobile Food Unit 2

10th and Ash Park- 11:30 a.m.-12 p.m.

Athletic Park shelter- 12:30-1 p.m.

Military Park- 1:30-2p.m.

Norm’s Coffee Shop-613 N. Main

12-12:45p.m. Fridays only