Central Montcalm, Vestaburg partner to offer free summer lunches

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 11:57 am on Monday, June 04, 2012

A program that has benefited hungry children for seven years in Montcalm County is expanding and expecting to attract more as the number of students in need of free lunches increases.

Central Montcalm Public School and Vestaburg Community Schools officials have announced the sponsorship of the Summer Food Service Program for Children, where free meals will be made available to youths 18 years old and younger or people up to age 26 who are enrolled in an educational program for the mentally or physically disabled.

“We have acknowledged that we have needy kids that need to eat,” Central Montcalm Food Service Director Dianne Mitchell said. “So this is one of the ways to do this during the summer.”

Mitchell has been in charge of the program since its introduction in 2005 and is aiming to continue to feed hungry children for duration of the summer.

“Each year I try to get more people involved,” she said. “There are a lot of families out there that just don’t have the means to give their kids three meals a day.”

According to Mitchell, four specific locations will be available for students to attend for free lunches and breakfast throughout the summer – Central Montcalm Middle School/High School, Central Montcalm Upper Elementary School, Vestaburg High School and the Seiter Educational Center in Greenville.

The program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and, Mitchell said, as long as certain educational requirements are met, the program will continue to be funded throughout the summer.

“Usually you have to have some sort of educational component,” Mitchell said. “Vestaburg will have a summer school program for thee weeks in June. At Central Montcalm, kids can learn about nutrition and the right way to exercise when they come to eat.”

According to Mitchell, there are 10 different sites throughout the Stanton area where the program will be offered, as well, spreading throughout area churches and at Montcalm Community College in Sidney. Hot meals will only be prepared at the four main distribution locations.

The menu ranges from a salad bar to rotations of deli hams, turkey, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken, pizza and hot dogs.

Central Montcalm Food Service Production Manager Amy Main said regardless of the season, it is the school’s responsibility to feed hungry children in need.

“We serve thousands of meals during the school year to hungry kids,” she said. “They’re still going to be hungry during the summer time, and if we can help ease those hunger pains, we will.”

According to Central Montcalm Superintendent Jake Helms, school enrollment has decreased from last year but the number of students on reduced lunch plans has increased.

“We’re kind of worried that if food is not available here, they may not have anywhere else to turn,” Helms said. “It’s our responsibility. We’ll feed anybody who comes through the door.”

Free lunch/breakfast locations

Central Montcalm Middle/High School
June 11 – Aug. 30 (Mon-Fri)
Breakfast: 7:45 to 8:45 a.m.
Lunch: 10:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Central Montcalm Upper Elementary School
June 18-29 (Mon-Fri)
Breakfast: 7:45 to 8:45 a.m.
Lunch: 10:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Vestaburg High School
June 4-28 (Mon-Thurs)
Breakfast: 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.
Lunch: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Seiter Educational Center
June 18-29, July 9-20, Aug. 6-17
Breakfast: 8:45 to 9:15 a.m.
Lunch: 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


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