District starts summer lunch program

District starts summer lunch programLibrary goers enjoy lunch on the lawn, thanks to the latest expansion of Sierra Sands Unified School District’s summer lunch program. — Photo by Laura Austin

------

By WILLIAM STEPHENS SR.

News Review Correspondent

The Sierra Sands Unified School District’s summer lunch program began this week, and will continue through July 13 at James Monroe Middle School and the Ridgecrest Branch of the Kern County Library.

Volunteers will be on hand Monday through Thursday at Monroe from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Tuesday through Friday at the library from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“The program last year was very successful, and the community really took advantage of it,” said Kris Groves, who oversees SSUSD’s nutrition program. The program got off to a slow start, with only 40 young people attending the first day. However, she said, it quickly jumped to 100 students, and then was averaging 120 kids each day by the end of the six-week program.

The program is free and doesn’t require anyone to sign up or qualify, and anyone 18 years of age or younger is eligible. Groves said that the district provides nutritious meals to the same standard as that for typical school lunches, and that children will have a choice between hot or cold lunch.

Although the program isn’t available for adults, parents are encouraged to join their children at each of the sites.

Kris Groves said the driving force behind the program was seeing how successful it was in other communities. “Being the food service supervisor, I receive a lot of management bulletins from the nutrition services department of the CDE [California Department of Education] and I thought, ‘Why not incorporate the summer feeding program into the summer school program as well?’”

The library is also incorporating activities into the meal program. (See related story, this issue.)

Groves acknowledged that the district may consider extending the length of the program in future years, but the program this year is tied to the length of the summer school program.

She said she learned from Trona, which has a similar program, that the participation tends to drop as the summer progresses.

To learn more, email foodservice@ssusd.org or contact Kristen Groves at 499-1880 ext 1.

Story First Published: 2018-06-08