Families brace for end of kids’ meals
Marion’s summer meal program has made Tracy Helmer’s life easier for during COVID-19 shutdowns, but she already is prepared for when it ends Tuesday.
Helmer anticipates a simple transition for her son since he already is capable of making his own meals.
“He’ll go and have sandwiches or whatever for lunch, vegetables and simple things like that,” she said.
The meals make it easier on Joy Vogel’s schedule — and her wallet.
“It helped the grocery bill a great deal,” Vogel, a summer day-care provider, said.
Being able to provide a balanced meal is the focus at Hillsboro’s Trinity Mennonite Church, which will continue to serve meals to Hillsboro families during the summer.
“We know there are children at risk of food scarcity during the summer when there is no school lunch program,” pastor Norma Duerkson said. “Those families will be facing not only hunger but also health problems due to lack of nutrition.”
Vogel likes that Marion has been offering variety in its meals. Even if her day care children have one or two food options they don’t want, it is easier making food for one child than several.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years, so anything to help save time is appreciated,” she said.
Ease-of-access is important to Helmer since her son is in high school and often moving from one activity to another.
“It’s good and easy,” she said. “It’s quick for him because he has other activities and things going on. He comes in and eats whenever.”
The end of Marion’s program will signify a return to normalcy for Vogel since she is used to making meals all summer, instead of just two months until school starts.
Marion’s deadline was the latest possible date Kansas set for school meals to be provided.
The district was delivering breakfast and lunch to 250 students a day in May, but that number decreased slightly in June.
More recently, the school averaged 185 students served each weekday in Marion, with 45 to 55 served in Florence. The school’s largest number of Marion students in June was 200.
All other meal programs for county school districts were done by the beginning of June.
Trinity Mennonite serves 80 meals a day, helping pick up slack when Hillsboro schools closed.
While the focus is on children, the church also provides meals to parents, grandparents or other family members who stop by.