SPPS looking for summer food service hosts

Adding a food truck, too

St. Paul Public Schools is hoping to provide more of its students with free summer meals.

Though the schools have long been providing free summer breakfast and lunch programs, there’s a marked discrepancy between the number of free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches served during the school year and what’s served during the summer months.

“It’s our goal to make sure that no child goes hungry simply because school is not in session,” said Angie Gaszak, nutrition specialist for St. Paul Public Schools.

So, the district is hoping to find more sites to host the summer food program. The program is put on by the U.S. Department oF Agriculture, and is called the Summer Food Service Program.

The program provides free meals to kids age 18 and younger during the summer, when they can’t get meals at school. The program goes from June 15 through Aug. 28.

The program is offered at recreation centers throughout the city, but can also be offered at churches, libraries, day camps and nonprofit organizations.

East Side locations include Phalen Beach, Conway Community Center, Phalen Rec Center, Arlington Hills Community Center, American Indian Magnet School, and more.

Last summer, St. Paul Public Schools helped serve 143,206 breakfasts, 209,676 lunches and 17,121 snacks through the program.

The lunches consist of an entree, a fresh fruit, a “veggie pack,” and low fat milk. Examples of entree items include chicken ranch salad, Italian combo wrap, and smoked turkey and cheese sandwich.

Breakfast items include yogurt, whole grain cereal, whole grain graham crackers, cheese sticks, whole grain bread, milk, fruit, and 100-percent juice.

The meals are funded through the United States Department of Agriculture, but the host sites provide staffing for the meals.

Meals are reimbursed by the USDA at a rate of roughly $2 per breakfast, $2.50 per lunch, and about 85 cents per snack.

In order for an organization to serve as a host for the program, sites need to complete an online application, and if selected, are requiried to follow a series of program rules and regulations. The program requires that all meals be offered during supervised times to all children on a first-come, first-served basis.

Those interested in participating can contact Sue Vandenheuvel at 651-603-4954. An online application form is available at ns.spps.org/summer.html.

SPPS also plans to add a food truck to be able to reach areas where other methods don’t work. The routes and locations for the food truck are still being developed.

— Patrick Larkin

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