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Kids offered free breakfast, lunch

Park Rapids School District will once again have free breakfast and lunch available for kids this summer.

The Summer Food Service Program for Children is sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Pat Stearns, food service director, said last summer's program was very successful. It was the first summer the program was offered in Park Rapids.

"Last year, we targeted it around summer school and community ed. programs," Stearns said. "We averaged 51 breakfasts and 75 lunches," more than she predicted.

This year, breakfast will be available from 8 to 9 a.m. and lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, June 15 through July 23. The meals are offered at Century School. Everyone 18 years old and younger can take advantage of the free meals.

Meal plans are the same as meals served during the school year, Stearns said.

Park Rapids is able to offer the program because more than 50 percent of elementary students are eligible for free and reduced meals under federal guidelines. Anyone can utilize the summer meal program, though, Stearns said.

During the school year, some families rely on their children being fed at school. The summer meal program helps bridge the gap after school is out.

"We don't want anyone to go hungry," Stearns said.

Stearns would like to see more children who are involved in community education programs to benefit from the free meals. Adult meals are available too for a cost if someone wants to eat with their child.

"I think this year, especially, with the economy, the program will be very beneficial to this area," Stearns said.