July 19, 2019

Young diners invited to free meals at Madison Elementary - Daily Leader Extra : Local News

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Young diners invited to free meals at Madison Elementary

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Posted: Monday, June 24, 2019 3:01 pm

After serving noon meals to girls and boys for the last three weeks, the organizers of Madison's summer meal program have found that they have typically provided about 80 children with free lunches each weekday.

The Madison Elementary School cafeteria has served sandwiches, pizza, salads, vegetables and fruit to diners age 18 and younger.

Madison school officials earlier this year organized a summer food-service program to serve free lunches for a second year. The Madison meal program provides lunches to any youngster under age 18 at no cost to the diner.

There are no income requirements to participate, and all the children need to do is line up in the cafeteria and grab a tray of food.

Gavin Finck, 8, of Madison, his 3-year-old brother Aiden and their mother Rebecca visited the school on a Thursday when chicken nuggets and breadsticks and turkey sandwiches were the entree items on the menu. Rebecca Finck said the family has visited the school about four times each week so far this summer.

According to Rebecca Finck, they live in a neighborhood near the school and the boys can visit with their friends at meal time. The school is also a "safe place" where there is supervision for boys and girls who range in age from preschool to their teens.

As Rebecca speaks, Aiden is busy opening his milk carton, insisting that he does the job on his own. Gavin chimes in that the young diners can return to the cafeteria kitchen to obtain second helpings of the food -- but not thirds.

About two dozen girls and boys have visited the elementary school for lunch, and they have conversations among themselves, but it's not too noisy among the tables.

Typically on weekdays, the children participating in the summer session of the Madison Afterschool Care Program eat their noon meals as part of the free lunch program. On the day that chicken nuggets were on the menu, the program participants left in the late morning on a field trip. When they do take their lunches from the cafeteria, the summer program can provide 40 to 50 additional diners.

New this summer, the Madison Central School District and East Dakota Transit cooperated to provide free bus rides to and from the elementary school. Officials with the meal program reported that two young people have used the ride program so far.

The free rides help children avoid long treks to get to the school, located in the northwest corner of Madison. To obtain bus rides, parents are asked to call East Dakota Transit at 256-5810 to set up a schedule.

The lunches at MES are served from 11:20 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. Monday through Friday. More information is available by calling 256-7700 or emailing mitchell.o.brooks.sd.us.

The first stage of the free-lunch program started on June 3 and will run until July 3. After a holiday break on July 4-5, the program's second stage will serve lunches from July 8 through Aug. 2.

The meals program prepared by Thrive Nutrition Services was approved earlier this year by the South Dakota Education Department. The meals are financially supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Summer Food Service Program.

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