With nearly one-in-four students on free or reduced lunch district-wide during the school year, Colonial School District provides a federally-funded free summer meal program that feeds more than 100 children each day, Monday through Thursday. The purpose of the program is to help bridge the nutritional gap that some District children may be experiencing over the summer.
"We know they're getting nutritious meals at school, but we don't know what kind of food they're getting -- if any -- in the summer," said Lori McCoy, Colonial's Director of Food Services. "It's heartbreaking to know that there are truly hungry kids out there who don't know when their next meal will be."
At Conshohocken Elementary, where during the school year 47% of the students receive free or reduced lunch, any children age 18 or younger can come to the school for both breakfast and lunch. At Colonial Elementary, children can stop by for lunch only. The meals follow the same nutritional guidelines as the breakfasts and lunches that Food Services prepares during the school year and include a protein, whole grain, fruit/vegetable and milk.
Children don't have to attend that school or be part of the free and reduced program to take advantage of the free meals.
There are some middle and high school students who went to Conshohocken Elementary School who stop by the school for the free lunch program, especially on pizza day.
"They sometimes pick and choose when they visit depending on what's on the menu, but that's okay," added Mrs. Koletas.
Coordinating the free meal program with other District activities
This summer, the Department of Education recommended that schools coordinate the free summer meal program with other events and activities in the District to encourage more students to take part. By timing the free meals with federally-funded Title I academic summer camps at Conshohocken and Plymouth Elementary Schools, the program has seen a boost in numbers this year.
"I love doing this program," said Mrs. Koletas. "There's such a need. I wish we could do more."
At Conshohocken Elementary School, 301 Harry Street, Conshohocken, children can get breakfast from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and lunch from 12:15 p.m. until 1:15 p.m.
At Colonial Elementary School, 230 Flourtown Road, Plymouth Meeting, children can get lunch from 12:15 until 12:45 p.m.
The program runs Monday to Thursday through August 10.
If parents want to bring their kids to Colonial Elementary School or Conshohocken Elementary School for a meal, the adults can also get the same meal for themselves for only $3.