Whoever said you cannot receive anything in life for free may not be entirely correct. Warsaw Community Schools, Wawasee Community School Corporation and Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation are all working to ensure nutrition is delivered to children throughout the summer by providing free, nutritional meals.
According to Marci Franks, head of the Food Services Department at WCS, this is the seventh year that WCS has offered the free summer meals. Franks said last summer 13,000 lunches or snacks were served at various public sites. These meals are offered to all children, regardless of their residency, that are between the ages of 1-18.
According to Franks, “The Warsaw program was started as a result of teachers and staff noting the eagerness of students eating meals during the summer school sessions. More than a few would ask for seconds for later or ask if they could save some to take home with them. Many students qualifying for free or reduced meal benefits during the school year simply don’t have the same resources available in the summer.
“Summer vacation does not always mean ‘fun in the sun to many children, but rather an increased risk of hunger and developmental decline,” added Franks. “Our purpose in making this program available to more children is to help meet basic nutritional needs and to help lower income children return to school ready to learn.”
Franks noted that 50 percent of students throughout the school system are currently eligible for free or reduced lunches throughout the school year compared to the 49.9 percent that qualified last year.
Though some may worry that the free meals provided by the school system throughout the summer could be taking dollars away from educational purposes, this is not the case. According to Franks, though the program is sponsored by Warsaw Community Schools, the funding for the free meals is supplied entirely by the United States Department of Agriculture. There is no cost to the child or family utilizing the meals.
Parents are not permitted to eat the free meals Franks does note that an adult may purchase a meal for $3.50.
Warsaw Community Schools provides free meals Monday through Friday at Winona Lake Park, Merrywood Mobile, Bixler Park at Center Lake, Edgewood Middle School, Hideaway Hills Mobile Home Park, Warsaw Community High School and Washington Elementary School (click here for complete list of times and dates). These locations were selected based on the area need for free or reduced lunches.
According to Franks, should there be rainfall these locations will still offer lunches outside if the rainfall is light. However, if it is storming, Franks said lunches will be canceled at locations except for Winona Lake Park where use of the nearby Winona Lake Community Center allows a rain location for the program. Franks said should weather necessitate cancellations, parents may travel to the Winona Lake location to receive lunches for their children there.
Wawasee Community School Corporation, which is also participating in the Summer Food Service Program, will provide meals to children Monday through Friday. Meals will be served at North Webster Elementary School, Syracuse Elementary School, Syracuse Lakeside Park Pavilion, Milford Elementary School and Bowen Center at Enchanted Hills (see related for complete listing of dates and times). During inclement weather, Syracuse Lakeside Park lunches will be served inside of the Syracuse Community Center.
Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation, also participating in the Summer Food Service Program, will provide meals to children Monday through Friday. Meals will be served at Akron Elementary School, Mentone Elementary School and Tippecanoe Valley High School (click here for a complete listing of dates and times).