Centennial Schools was able to feed not only all of the students enrolled in summer Kids Camp day camps, but also all athletes who were practicing. It was also able to put out breakfast and lunch meal packages for any students who needed them.
“It really took a burden off of the families this year,” said Tara Forner, the district’s director of nutrition services. “The parents didn’t have to worry about packing lunches for their kids. Athletes loved it.”
She said it also exposed more students to the wide variety of food schools can prepare during the school year, and that has expanded the number of students who now rely on school lunches. She said there were other benefits, too.
“It was great for us to see our students outside of the school day and school year,” she said. “It was great for me to have our custodians to have extra work to do. Our para-professionals volunteered to work for the summer, as well, and it gave my staff extended hours.”
The summer food program, like the free meals available this school year, have been available to students and families thanks to federal waivers which allowed districts both financial and regulatory support. It’s up to Congress to determine if meal programs will continue this summer.
Forner said she was grateful for the recognition from Washington and for all of the community support for the program.