School hold free lunch program for the summer

Local4 News at 6
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 7:19 AM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Those in need of a meal during the summer will be able to find it at a familiar place. Several schools around the Tri-Cities are opening their door this summer to feed kids in need. The free lunch program will run until the end of June, and meals are only free for those 18-years old or younger; but adults can purchase a meal.

Tuesday’s menu featured hamburgers, tater tots, a fruit and vegetable. Officials said this program helps families with parents who have to work long hours during the summer.

“Sometimes in the summer parents are working all year round and we have children who are older and home alone and could use some meals so they’re welcome to come out,” said Lauren Rathman, Dietitian for Grand Island Public Schools. “Sometimes there’s families who could benefit from having the free meals available to them.”

Rathman said sometimes parents carpool to bring kids over to get a free meal. The provided meals is similar to what they would receive during the school year.

“We follow a slightly different meal pattern than during the school year but it’s pretty similar,” said Rathman. “We offer entree every day, and then fruits and vegetables and milk. So it’s a very well balanced meal for the children.”

Rathman said one food group in particular has the most flexibility.

“We just have different requirements for each food group,” said Rathman. “So like in the school year we have to offer so many vegetables, and that’s the big difference of summer. We have a little more flexibility in the summer as far as vegetables are concerned.”

Rathman said the number of people they serve has dwindled since COVId-19 restrictions were lifted, but the drop has also been over time.

“It’s up and down,” said Deb Hopkins, Head Server at Lincoln Elementary. “The other day I was looking at my memories and it said 10 years ago we had 196 kids that we served, and now were down to 55.”

Hopkins said over the years she has seen kids use the meal program as another way to socialize with each other. Adding, sometime entire families come in to get a meal.

Details for each city for these programs are listed below:


Bright Futures Preschool: 1511 5th Ave.

Central Elementary: 300 West 24th St.

Kenwood Elementary: 915 16th Ave.

Grand Island

Dodge Elementary: 641 S. Oak St.

Howard Elementary: 502 W. 9th St.

Barr Middle School: 602 W. Stolley Park Rd.

Walnut Middle School: 1600 N. Custer Ave.


Lincoln Elementary: 720 S. Franklin Ave.

Hastings Middle School: 201 N. Marian Rd.