Kayte Partch with the Nebraska Education Department says schools with at least half their students on free or reduced lunches qualify for the USDA-funded program. Partch says the program serves more than just breakfast and lunch for children on summer vacation.
“It can be a sense of community for the kids,” Partch tells Nebraska Radio Network. “It can also help prevent or reduce, at least, summer learning loss. So, I think those are two pretty good highlights that we like to sell to schools.”
School eligible have at least half their children on free or reduced lunches during the school year. The Food Research and Action Committee estimates only 15% of the children eligible participate in the program. The Education Department hopes to attract more children to sites located throughout the state and hopes to get more school districts involved.
Partch says the highest participation is in Omaha and Lincoln.
Partch says the children who participate get more than a free meal out of it.
“I hear very consistently that the kids really value the time they get to spend with the adults at the sites and also just the fact that they know they’ve got someone trusted who really is invested in helping make sure they’re taken care of,” Partch says.
Both schools and non-profit organizations, including faith-based groups, can participate in the program. Nutritious meals and snacks are served to children in schools, churches, and parks.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]