Summer food service program feeds kids for free

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MOBERLY – Some kids only eat one meal a day, and they rely on school to supply it.

So when school lets out for the summer, it can be more frantic than fun for these children and their families.

More than 80% of the children in Randolph County qualify for free or reduced cost lunches but county is trying to change this. 

But a free summer food service that feeds anybody under the age of 18 for free is there to help.

Randolph County Caring Communities Partnership sponsors the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program for local children.

Program director Patty Hendren said the goal is to feed and uplift children while their parents and teachers aren’t around.

Last year the summer program provided more than 23,000 meals across 31 different sites. This year, Hendren said program leaders hope to feed even more hungry mouths.

“We encourage the children to sit while they eat. This is not only to teach behavior skills and manners but also just so we know that we are feeding the kids directly, and this food isn’t going home or being wasted or going into someone else’s mouth,” she said. 

The program also aims teach the children about healthy living.

“It’s not just feeding the kids, but it’s a learning thing too,” Hendren said.

Kimberly Buckman, who is the project director of Impacting Youth Wellness, wants to put an emphasis on not just feeding, but nourishing the children.

Volunteers make sure four ounces of fruit and four ounces of vegetables, some meat or protein source, milk and usually some kind of whole grain go into every meal.

In hopes to encourage all around health, the program also brings in volunteers like physical education teachers and personal trainers. These people serve as positive role models, bringing in balls, hoola hoops, weights, obstacle courses and other tools to encourage physical activity in a safe and controlled environment.

Randolph County Caring Communities Program also uses donation money to supply books and balls to the kids at some of its free lunch events throughout the summer.

The program is run primarily by volunteers and will continue through August 5.

Buckman encouraged anybody with time to be involved.

”If you are there and if you see some of these kids getting their meal, there is an impact that makes on your life,” she said.

To be involved or for information about sites serving food, contact Patty Hendren at 660-833-9390.