The DuBois Area School District will once again offer its annual free summer food service program, Superintendent Wendy Benton said at last week’s board meeting.
Lunch will be served to any child 18 years of age or younger, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and all children are welcome to participate free of charge.
Starting July 9 and continuing through Aug. 8 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays children can enjoy a nutritious lunch at any of the following locations: CG Johnson Elementary School, DuBois Area Middle School and Treasure Lake Church, said Benton.
During the week of Aug. 12 through Aug. 16, Monday through Friday, lunch will be served at any of the following locations: CG Johnson Elementary School, DuBois Are Middle School, Treasure Lake Church and the DuBois Area High School.
During the week of Aug. 12 through Aug. 16, lunch will be available at the DuBois Area High School.
Per state guidelines, children must choose at least three of the five components available for the school lunch: ½ cup of a fruit or vegetable, meat or meat alternative, choice of vegetable, choice of fruit, grain/bread, and a choice of milk (1 percent white, fat-free white, chocolate, vanilla or strawberry).
All meals meet strict nutrition standards including a balance of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. These meals provide an important resource for many children and families. All site locations will also sell affordable meals to adults, over the age of 18, for $2.50 per meal, said Benton.
The free summer food service program is sponsored through the Pennsylvania Department of Education through an application process completed by Director of Food Services Tom Koscienski and Business Manager Jeanette Buriak.
“Tom and Jeanette are to be commended for their time and efforts to not only complete and submit the application but also for the coordination, planning and preparation to provide nutritious meals for children over the summer months,” said Benton. “I certainly recognize and appreciate their commitment to the children of our community.”
Although the free summer food service program occurs on an annual basis, there are often misconceptions. First and most importantly, there are no income guidelines. Second, all children, even children who are not residents of the school district, are eligible, welcome and encouraged to participate. Third, the district receives state and federal reimbursement for every lunch that is served.
The dates and locations for the summer food program were selected to optimize the potential to feed as many children as possible. Officials have tried to schedule around summer school, athletic camps, academic camps and band camps, Koscienski said.
Koscienski said, “Our goal is to make free lunches available to as many children as possible during the summer months.”
“Good nutrition is essential for learning and helps to promote health and wellness,” said Benton. “When our children are healthy and well, they continue to make positive strides developmentally over the summer months and return to school ready to learn. The summer food service program is also a nice way to show our students how much we care about them — even when they are on summer vacation.”
During the 2018-2019 school year, 56.2 percent or 2,148 students in the district received free or reduced lunches. In addition to providing breakfast and lunch to the students during the school day, every school has deployed a backpack program to provide nourishment to students over the weekends and holidays.
“This summer I was pleasantly surprised to learn that our friends at DuBois FedEx Ground collected approximately 20 bags full of snacks and drinks for us to provide to children in need throughout the summer months,” said Benton. “This generous donation will provide us with the opportunity to establish a ‘share table’ as an extension of the free summer lunch program on Thursdays where students can select items of their choice to take home with them until we are able to provide meals for them again on the following Tuesday. Words cannot express how appreciative we are of this unsolicited and extremely generous donation. I find it astounding that the people in our community not only recognize the needs of our children but also take it upon themselves to rally a team to provide for those needs. Our community understands that hunger never takes a summer vacation.”