Block can see his balanced meal

Ethan Block enjoys a balanced meal with lots of fresh cantalope to go with veggies and milk during his visit to Park Elementary last year for the Summer Food Service Program. The program is back for its eighth year in Hutchinson.

Hutchinson Public Schools, Common Cup Ministry and Hunger Free McLeod are partnering up again to make the Summer Food Service Program possible in our community.

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture program provided more than 1.5 million nutritious meals and snacks to children during the summer when school was not in session. Park Elementary and Hutchinson Middle School sites served 6,371 of those meals. Since 2012, when the first summer feeding program started here in Hutchinson, the number of meals served to kids has increased year after year, and there continues to be a need.

Lesli Mueller

Lesli Mueller

Children this time of year look forward to school getting out to enjoy what summer has to offer them, but it can be a hardship to families who do not have access to school meals. That is why the summer feeding program is so important to the Hutchinson area. A child’s need for good nutrition plays a valuable role in helping them to learn, grow and stay healthy. The program provides free lunch to any child age 18 or younger. There is no income requirements or registration. Children can eat as many days as the summer feeding program is in service.

All delicious meals are served by the food service staff at Park Elementary and Hutchinson Middle School, Monday–Friday. Park Elementary serves lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. from June 17-Aug. 16 in the cafeteria. Hutchinson Middle School serves lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m. from June 17-Aug. 2 in the commons area. Both serving sites will be closed July 3-5 for the Fourth of July holiday week, and Park Elementary will be closed Aug. 5-7 due to a training conference for food service staff.

Parents and guardians are encouraged to eat with their children as another opportunity for family time. An adult lunch is at the affordable price of $4.25 for a well-balanced meal. We welcome parents, community groups, businesses and anyone in the community to volunteer and show your support of this wonderful program by assisting school food service with some small duties around the serving times. Without the support of volunteers, the summer food program would not run as smooth and successful in serving kids and families. For more information on volunteering, please email Jennifer Wicklund at or call 320-583-9929.

Kids, teens and adults will enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Our summer menu is filled with some of the favorites from the school year. These well-nourished menus give kids energy to play and learn throughout their summer. By participating in the summer feeding program, working parents can be assured their children are enjoying a well-rounded meal that is not filled with empty calories.

Children, their friends and families gathering at either feeding site can benefit from the program in a variety of ways that adds to a strong community in Hutchinson.

Lesli Mueller is director of food service at Hutchinson Public Schools. You, Your Kids & School is a twice-a-month column from School District 423.

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