Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Littleton Public Schools is offering free meals at both Field Elementary and East Elementary throughout the summer. As part of the National School Lunch Program, all children are able to have both breakfast and lunch from Monday to Friday.
“Some people have been coming here for years and years,” says Jeanne King, Littleton Public Schools food service director and a 32-year employee of the district. “Even day-care providers in their homes, they can come down with all their kids to get lunch.”
The program also serves students in summer programs, whether by serving them in the cafeteria or packing them a sack lunch for a field trip. Anywhere from 70 to nearly 200 children are served meals every day at both schools and King would like to increase that number even more, ensuring that the schools serve to their full capacity.
An extension of the free or reduced lunches offered throughout the year, the summer lunch program was available to all schools in which more than 50 percent of the children attending had their lunches free of charge or at a reduced price. At the two elementary schools where food is served, nearly 80 percent of the students receive financial assistance for their meals. The program is federally financed, with no funds coming from the school district, due to what King calls “the hunger and joblessness of the last few years.”
King has also ensured that the meals served are balanced and nutritious.
“We have five components,” she says. “Protein, fruits, vegetables, bread, and milk, almost the same as during the school year.”
Having seen the benefits of balanced meals due to the district’s similar breakfast program during the school year, King is optimistic about the effect of the summer lunches.
“Behaviors have changed both in and out of the classroom,” she says. “Their learning capabilities have improved and attendance has gotten much better.”
Breakfast is served at East Elementary from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., Monday through Friday, and lunch is served at both East Elementary and Field Elementary from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Both breakfast and lunch are also offered at Littleton High School. Meals are free for kids and $3.40 for adults.