WEST CHESTER, Ohio – For many Tri-State children, lunch is often their only reliable meal, which means some children go without regular or healthy meals during the summer.
That’s why the Lakota Local School District has rolled out a new program that is bringing lunch straight to the children who need it most.
“We know what a lot of kids may not have access to another hot meal, or a meal in general, so bringing this program out into the community allows them to have a meal where they may not otherwise have had one,” Lakota Local Schools Assistant Director of Child Nutrition Lynn Gilkey said.
At Lakota Lake Apartments, there are dozens of children whose families qualify for free or reduced-price lunch during the year. They’re not always sure when the next meal is coming, but this summer they know at 12:30 p.m. the school bus is coming, and lunch is coming with it.
Volunteers check the children’s lunch card, and the youngsters can go onboard for healthy food like fruit, vegetables and a sandwich.
The $147,000 program is paid for by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
More than 3,500 families qualify for the program in the Lakota school district, which also sees benefits like getting children outside for activities like throwing a football with Union Elementary Assistant Principal Kyle Lichey.
“If they trust you, they’re going to want to do great in school,” Lichey said.
Pawandeep Kaur sent her son down with the other children Wednesday. She said many of her neighbors really need the help.
“This lunch program actually helps them out a little bit,” Kaur said. “I actually went up to them and told them, ‘bring your kids over here and it will help you out with the groceries.’ Some families can’t do lunch every day.”
Over the course of more than 50 days, the district plans to give away 200,000 lunches.