A summer program that hands out free lunches is expanding and adding more locations, with the goal of feeding more children.
Local food service directors expect to serve more than 30,000 meals this summer through a government-funded program with Franklin, Clark-Pleasant and Greenwood schools. Free lunches will be served to children at 11 sites throughout the county in June and July, but some sites have moved from past years, with the goal of being easier to get to. Adults can eat for less than $5 per meal.
Franklin and Clark-Pleasant schools are also adding more sites.
Clark-Pleasant is adding a sixth site to their summer feeding program this summer at Pebble Creek Community off of Stop 18 Road, since it was a site the schools used to include in the past, said food services director Kim Combs. The other five locations — Summerfield Park, Greenwood Estates, Break-O-Day Elementary, Pleasant Crossing Elementary and Village Crossing Apartments — will also be set up again this year.
Pebble Creek Community is not within walking distance to Break-O-Day or Pleasant Crossing schools, and since meals will already be given out at nearby Greenwood Estates, it’s an easier location to include, Combs said.
Clark-Pleasant officials have a goal of serving 11,000 meals this summer, up from 10,278 last year, Clark-Pleasant assistant superintendent John Schilawski said.
“The major goal of the program is really to be addressing children in need,” Schilawski said. “What we noticed last year was a jump in meals for adults. Now, the adults are coming in and wanting to eat with their children.”
Greenwood’s lunch site will change this summer to be more convenient for children to get to.
In the past, Greenwood has set up a lunch site at Northeast Elementary, but numbers were low from year-to-year, Greenwood food service director Cheryl Hargis said. Schools are reimbursed by the United States Department of Agriculture based on the number of meals served, and in the past, school officials had considered ending the program because they weren’t serving enough children.
Last summer, less than 1,400 meals were served, with fewer than 100 children participating per day on average. School officials pick locations near students who live in low-income housing, or are part of the free- and reduced-price lunch program during the school year.
But this year, the Greenwood community center is under construction and Isom Elementary School and Greenwood Middle School are being used as alternative locations for summer programming. Since adults and children will be nearby, Hargis wanted to make it convenient for families to participate, she said.
“We’re there to help the community,” Hargis said.
By moving to Isom, Hargis already can expect more children per day to participate, she said. About 70 students enrolled in summer programming with the community center will be receiving lunches daily, which is higher than their daily average of about 20 to 25 students per day last year, she said.
In addition, Isom has a slightly larger free and reduced-price lunch population compared to Northeast, so children who live nearby will be more likely to grab lunch, she said.
When looking for new sites to offer meals, Franklin turned to the transportation department to find which neighborhoods had dozens of students getting picked up, but wouldn’t be able to walk to a nearby location for the summer lunch program, she said. For example, approximately 85 children at Franklin North Village apartments on Schoolhouse Road ride the bus to school, so that would be a popular location to give away dozens of meals, Franklin food services director Jill Overton said.
“I think that would be a huge opportunity,” Overton said.
Franklin officials are working to add a new location for this summer, Overton said.
Three school districts are offering free lunches for children and a low-cost meal for adults in June and July. Here is where residents can receive lunches on weekdays:
When: June 6 through July 15, with no meals served on July 4
- Break-O-Day Elementary School, 900 Sawmill Road, New Whiteland, open from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
- Pleasant Crossing Elementary School, 3030 N. County Road 125W, Whiteland, open from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
- Greenwood Estates, 1642 S. U.S. 31, Greenwood, open from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m.
- Summerfield Park, 275 W. Worthsville Road, Greenwood, open from 12:45 to 1:15 p.m.
- Village Crossing apartments, 20 Village Crossing Drive, Greenwood, 11 to 11:15 a.m.
- Pebble Creek Community, 225 Pebble Creek Drive, Greenwood, 12:15 to 12:45 p.m.
When: May 31 through July 29, with no meals served on July 4
- Northwood Elementary School, 965 Grizzly Cub Dr., Franklin, open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Traditions Apartments, 1600 Traditions Court, Franklin
- Franklin Cove, 2015 Franklin Cove Court, Franklin
- Countryview Mobile Homes, 1199 Hospital Road, Franklin
When: May 31 through July 22, with no meals served on July 4
- Isom Elementary School, 50 E. Broadway Drive, Greenwood, open from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.