Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas Department of Education Looking for More Summer Meal Sponsors ; Meal: 'Kids Don't Stop Eating in May'

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas Department of Education Looking for More Summer Meal Sponsors ; Meal: 'Kids Don't Stop Eating in May'

Article excerpt

Kansas is looking to serve more than 116,000 more meals to children for free this summer than it did last year.

Kelly Chanay, assistant director of child nutrition and wellness for the Kansas State Department of Education, said the state ranks 48th in the country when looking at the percentage of its children receiving free or reduced-price school lunches who participate in a summer nutrition program. A meeting Thursday in Topeka was one of the early efforts to get more children into the programs this summer.

KSDE is targeting Topeka, Garden City and Kansas City, Kan., to recruit more sponsors and sites where children can receive meals, Chanay said. Other groups are focused on rural areas with high levels of need.

Kansas sites served about 1.2 million meals during the summer in 2014, and KSDE wants to increase that to about 1.3 million meals this summer. In Shawnee County, three school districts and Harvesters served a combined 36,611 breakfasts, 79,857 lunches and 8,969 afternoon snacks in summer 2014.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses organizations that sponsor summer feeding sites in low-income areas. A sponsoring organization can prepare and serve the food itself, Chanay said, or it can handle the paperwork and outreach side and partner with one or more sites that will handle the actual service.

"In the past we've focused heavily on schools in Kansas, but we realize with the budget cuts, we've got to reach out to our community partners," she said.

Representatives from Topeka USD 501, Seaman USD 345 and Auburn- Washburn USD 437 attended Thursday, as did representatives from USDA, multiple churches, Meals on Wheels, Harvesters and other nonprofits.

For breakfast, USDA requires sites to serve each child 8 ounces of milk; one serving of fruit, vegetables or juice; and a grain serving, such as a slice of whole-grain bread, a muffin or a half- cup of cooked cereal. …

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