Summer Food Program underway

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By Reed Anfinson
Swift County Monitor-News

Benson Public Schools will again host the Summer Food Service Program with meals served in the Benson High School cafeteria.

Last year, the program served meals for 66 days, however, it is proposed that meals be served 57 days, from May 28 to Aug. 16, Food Service Director Jeanine Bowman told the board of education at its meeting Wednesday, May 22. No meals are served July 4-5.

For kids 18 years old or younger the meals are free. Kids older than 18 are allowed if there is an identifiable disability and the child has been participating in school programs.  These exceptions are extended until the person is 21.

The program will also serve meals to those over 18, including parents, but they have to pay $4 per meal. Bowman told the board that some of the students involved in summer programs, or athletic camps, also came to the school for the meals.

Through the program last year, 2,645 breakfast meals were served and 3,952 lunches. There can be 60 to 70 kids on average who come for breakfast and 80 to 90 for lunches. The numbers reflect meals also served to children in the school’s Discovery Care childcare program.

Meals are served Monday through Friday with breakfast served from 7:30 to 8:30. Bowman proposed serving lunches from 11 to noon to reduce costs for the program. However, Elementary Principal Brad Johnson pointed out that kids involved in summertime community education activities don’t get done until noon, and then some of those go to the school for lunch.

Last year the program lost money. To try balance the budget this year, Bowman said she would be putting in about half the hours she did last year. It will cut a dishwasher position and will change the menu to make one day a week an “easy menu” requiring less staff time. It will also reduce the amount of paper plates and plastic utensils it uses.

The program has also applied for a $5,000 No Kid Hungry program grant and should find out in June whether or not it has received it.

It plans to continue to incorporate foods from the school garden into the summer meal program.

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