In a follow up to our blog post dated July 11th, 2019, we had the opportunity to learn more about a local school district serving free meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). We had an opportunity to talk with Kristin Nisen from Brentwood Unified School District. We wanted to learn a little more…
How many kids on average attend a Summer Lunch Program?
It varies, however, after relocating one of our sites to a large community park, the participation increased tremendously from an average of 17 kids a day to 170 kids a day! Our highest number of kids served in one day was 280! We also added activities for the kids to participate in each day. The parents are all so thankful for having a central area to get together with others and meet new families. Many bring their kids to play at the kid’s park, get lunch and then go to the nearby waterpark.
How do you feel this program makes a difference? During the school year in Brentwood, on an average day, we feed 1800 ‘free’ students that rely on the meals we are providing them and hopefully help relieve some worry and hardship on their parents. During the 7 weeks of summer break, these students either wouldn’t get the meals and/or it would create more hardship for their families to feed all their children. We are providing a hot meal with fresh fruits and vegetables and milk, as well as free activities for the kids to participate in. We are sending a positive message regarding the importance of nutrition and exercise.
How do kids find out about the free lunches? This year we reached out by digital flyers via schools, flyers at all school cafes and offices, sent information to principals to share, on district webpage, on social media groups, Food Bank website, No Kids Hungry, reached out to city council members, and had two articles in the Brentwood Press. Next year, I would like to reach out to more churches, apartment complexes, and nearby grocery stores.
What kind of feedback have you received? Parents are very grateful. I remember one mom came to me letting me know how thankful she was for having the program. She has six kids and money is always tight. I’m not sure if these kids eat with us during the year on the meal benefit program or receive any other assistance, but the overall gratitude was amazing.