Sioux Falls School District Out For The Summer, But Meals Don’t Stop
The Sioux Falls School District serves around 15,000 meals to students every day throughout the school year. But what happens Monday when kids are out of class for the summer? For decades, the district has been providing summer meals to students when they may not otherwise have one.
It’s the last day of school at Hayward Elementary in Sioux Falls. But just because classes are ending doesn’t mean the food has to.
Sioux Falls School District Child Nutrition Services Supervisor Joni Davis said, “Suddenly, school’s gone and the question can be ‘Oh, gosh, where we can go to and get a meal on a daily basis?'”
The Sioux Falls School District provides both lunch and breakfast throughout the summer to those 18 and under for free. Last summer, they served around 7,000 meals for breakfast, and around 23,000 lunches.
Davis said, “Certainly, adding breakfast was something last year we were very curious to know, ‘would we have participation when breakfast was offered?’ so that was exciting to see that we were able to have that many kids come and join us.”
This summer, there are six elementary schools serving meals, as well as Whittier Middle School, and the Food Services Center on North Western Avenue. Lunches are offered at all eight locations and five offer breakfast.
“There’s no structure, there’s no cards that have to be held, it’s just coming in getting in line, coming on through.”
And the locations are not just picked randomly. The schools that offer meals have the most children who qualify for free or reduced lunches during the school year. Davis says they have an average of around 44 percent of students in the district meet those requirements.
Davis said, “They just know and trust that they can come here, they know they can get a meal and it’s going to meet some specific needs for their children, and that it is a safe and secure place that they can come.”
The district has 25 employees that work through the summer preparing meals. They says the summer lunch program is funded through the USDA. That organization plans to serve 200 million free meals to children nationwide this summer.