Years after Edinburgh schools stopped serving free lunches in the summer, a local church is bringing back the tradition.
Edinburgh schools offered a summer feeding program in 2012, where students could get lunches for free, but stopped when they did not give out more than 15 meals per day. After seeing a need in the community, Edinburgh United Methodist Church members decided to start the program instead.
The program runs through the Indiana Department of Education, so Edinburgh United Methodist Church secretary Sherri Sweet had to call and ask permission to apply, she said. Due to the high number of local students receiving free and reduced-price lunches, the church was approved to run the program this summer, Sweet said. Greenwood, Franklin and Clark-Pleasant all offer the summer feeding program, but they are run by the school districts’ food service department, and give free meals away every day of the week.
“We are just trying to be more proactive in helping the community,” Sweet said. “It’s a mission for us.”
Children 18 years old or younger can get a free lunch on Tuesdays, starting today, from noon to 12:30 p.m. at the Edinburgh Parks and Recreation center, located at 722 Eisenhower Drive. The church wants to start serving meals once a week, since the program is new, but Sweet said he hopes to expand to more days per week next summer, she said.
All of the food will be prepared in the church’s kitchen, and then taken to the parks and recreation building to be served, Sweet said. By offering the meals at the parks and recreation center, Sweet hopes children find it a welcoming place to stop by in the summer, she said.
“As a church, we believe serving others is a core part of our identity, and it just made sense to do that in a way that meets the needs of our community children,” church pastor Sean Johnson said in a statement.
Earlier this year, Sweet called the state to see if Edinburgh schools or another organization would be offering the program this summer. The school district ran the program four summers ago, but stopped after a year due to low attendance. No more than 15 children were served free meals per day at the Edinburgh feeding sites, so school officials decided to stop the program.
But the church is anticipating at least 60 students per day, including children at the parks department’s summer camp, Sweet said. On top of the 60 summer camp students, she estimates another 40 students would grab lunch on Tuesdays, Sweet said.
Fliers were put up around town, and sent out with children at East Side Elementary School, added to the daily announcements at the middle school and high school and sent to students at nearby school systems, such as Southwestern in Shelbyville, Sweet said.
Children 18 years old or younger or adults with mental or physical disabilities can receive free lunches this summer through four programs:
When: June 6 through July 15, with no meals served on July 4
- Break-O-Day Elementary School, 900 Sawmill Road, New Whiteland, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
- Pleasant Crossing Elementary School, 3030 N. County Road 125W, Whiteland, 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
- Greenwood Estates, 1642 S. U.S. 31, Greenwood, 11:15 to 11:45 a.m.
- Summerfield Park, 275 W. Worthsville Road, Greenwood, 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: 12 to 12:30 p.m. on May 31, June 7, June 14, June 21, June 28, July 5, July 12, July 19, July 26
Where: Edinburgh Parks and Recreation Center, 722 Eisenhower Drive, Edinburgh
When: May 31 through July 29, with no meals served on July 4
- Northwood Elementary School, 965 Grizzly Cub Drive, Franklin, 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
- Traditions Apartments, 1600 Traditions Court, Franklin, 11:20 to 11:40 a.m.
- Countryview Mobile Homes, 1199 Hospital Road, Franklin, 11:30 to 11:50 a.m.
- Franklin Cove, 2015 Franklin Cove Court, Franklin, 11:50 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.
- Northwood Apartments of Franklin, 2018 Cedar Lane, Franklin, 12:25 to 12:45 p.m.
- Franklin North Village, 57 Schoolhouse Road, Franklin, 12 to 12:20 p.m.
When: May 31 through July 22, with no meals served on July 4
Isom Elementary School, 50 E. Broadway Drive, Greenwood, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.