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Kids few in number but large in praise of free lunch program

Staff writer

After a week of serving free lunches at the multipurpose room at Peabody-Burns Elementary School, volunteer food program coordinator Beth Peter said she was happy with the turnout but wished more families would take advantage.

“We had about 18 children come in and eat every day,” she said. “I was relieved there were that many, but in a way I was also disappointed we didn’t have more show up.

“Maybe as the summer goes on it will get better.”

As week two got started at 11:30 a.m. Monday, seven youngsters came in and grabbed their drink and lunch bag and selected a piece of fresh fruit.

Alyssa Holt, 8, said she thought the lunch was pretty good.

“I would probably fix cereal for lunch if I was home,” she said.

Alyssa was with her brother Justin; their friend Tanner Parks; and their 16-year old uncle, Tony Adams from Valley Center, who also ate with the younger children even though he does not attend school in Peabody.

“That is part of the program provisions,” Superintendent Ron Traxson said. “Any child in the 1-to-18-year age bracket can eat free. There are no income guidelines and no residency requirements.”

Traxson said he was also a little disappointed in the initial turnout but hoped that as people became more familiar with the program attendance would go up.

“Any time you try a new event, attendance is low at first. At any rate it is a good step in the right direction as far as the services the district can provide to its students,” he said. “We hope to learn from this and expand on it for next year. We’d like to provide the service in Burns as well.”

The lunch packets are provided by Kansas Food Bank in Wichita. Peabody Community Foundation pays for fresh fruit to go with the meal. The school district is in charge of the site, and volunteers to pass out food and keep a log of the number of children who participate.

The initial phase of the Peabody program is scheduled to end July 3.

“We will evaluate how we are doing a week or so before that date and make a decision about whether or not to continue through July,” he said. “Right now Beth has volunteers set up to be on hand and serve the food this month. We will have to see if we have the staff to add another month and see if the kids are still showing up.”

Students eating Monday thought the food was good and definitely better than Alyssa’s cold cereal would be for lunch.

“Actually,” said 10-year-old Lukas Spencer, “I think it is better than pizza.”

Meals are served between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and must be eaten on site.

Group or individuals interested in volunteering maycontact Beth Peter at (620) 983-2188 or the central office at (620) 983-2198.

Last modified June 3, 2015

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