Source: Sherman Publications

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Free summer breakfast and lunch for all children

by Susan Bromley

July 11, 2012

Myah Rizzo,7, Kimberly Summerfield, 7, and Jadyn May, 7 reach for apples during lunch time at Oakwood Elementary School.
Brandon Twp.- Free lunch, and breakfast, too, is available for kids 18 and under this summer at Oakwood Elementary, 2839 Oakwood Road.

The Brandon School District Food Services Department is able to offer the free meals through a grant offered to schools which have more than 50 percent of their student population eligible to participate in the free and reduced price lunch program.

All children 18 and under, regardless of where they live and what their household's income is, can participate in the summer food program, however, and Suzanne Evenson, food services director, is hoping to draw more kids.

"We served breakfast and lunch to140 kids yesterday," said Evenson on Tuesday, the second day of the program, as about 130 children in the Oakwood cafeteria munched on hot dogs on whole grain buns, fresh carrots, apples and sliced oranges. Fat free chocolate or white milk was also offered.

Most of the children taking advantage of the free meals are enrolled in the EXTRA reading and math tutoring program at the school, but Evenson stressed that all children are welcome.

"We hope to get more kids from the community and newcomers," she said. "We're so happy to be able to offer it."

Breakfast is provided from 8:30-9:30 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

The summer food program will run until Aug. 23 if there is enough participation.

The EXTRA summer tutoring program, funded by Title I federal grant funds, runs through Aug. 2. The program was implemented during the school year and nearly 170 students were registered for the summer portion of the program to help close the achievement gap between them and their peers.

Three hours of daily instruction from Monday through Thursday gives EXTRA students extra time to learn math and reading concepts at the age-appropriate level. The EXTRA program has a team of 15 teachers, seven paraprofessionals and multiple volunteers.

"We are on a mission to close the gap," said Harvey Swanson Principal Andy Phillips, who leads the program. "Research shows the best way to do that is to have kids spend more time on task."