Kids eat free at Capital City Farmer’s Market

DOVER — Obtaining free, healthy lunches during the summer is a little easier for kids and teens living in and around downtown Dover.

That’s because Capital School District now offers lunches at Dover’s weekly farmer’s market on Loockerman Way Plaza.

Eating a free lunch at Wednesday’s Capital City Farmers Market are Brayden Leister (from left), 9, Makayla Daisey, 8, Anthony Scott, 10, Timothy Leister,12, and Catelyn Leister, 8. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Eating a free lunch at Wednesday’s Capital City Farmers Market are Brayden Leister (from left), 9, Makayla Daisey, 8, Anthony Scott, 10, Timothy Leister,12, and Catelyn Leister, 8. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“We’ve been offering summer lunches for years but never had a large response because offering lunch only at the schools didn’t offer much exposure,” said Jim Trower, director of Capital Child Nutrition.

“We hope this additional location makes us more visible to kids and their parents so they know the program is an option.”

In years past, Booker T. Washington was the primary option for summer lunches for kids who live downtown. But they needed to walk to lunch, and Mr. Trower said crossing Del. 8 has always been a concern of the district.

“Route 8 can get very busy,” he said. “It’s not as much of a concern during the year because we have a crossing guard, but during the summer, the kids have to rely on the light to safely get across the road.”

The Capital City Farmer’s Market option also will be a safer choice for the kids traveling on foot or bike: There are no major roads and a crosswalk is at nearly every corner.

Kati Kline and her son Jo Jo get a free lunch from Capital School District Cafeteria staff worker Denise Collingwood at the Capital City Farmers Market on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Kati Kline and her son Jo Jo get a free lunch from Capital School District Cafeteria staff worker Denise Collingwood at the Capital City Farmers Market on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The Summer Food Service Program, established in 1975, is a continuation of the National School Lunch Program making it a federally funded and state-organized endeavor. The school district’s role in providing the free lunches are to prepare and distribute the meals.

“We have a lot of the same Child Nutrition employees preparing and serving the meals during the summer that we have during the year,” Mr. Trower said.

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration’s Food and Nutrition Service, 29 million American schoolchildren rely on school-provided breakfasts and lunches every day and the kids’ food needs do not change when school is not in session.

Participation in summer food distribution isn’t limited to schools or districts. Nearly any community center or program can participate.

This year, the Sankofa Community Center joined the Summer Food Service Program by providing its children with free lunches, too.

Kati Kline and her son Luke get a free lunch from Capital School District Cafeteria staff workers Lori Ridgeway and Lynwood Lawhorn at the Capital City Farmers Market on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Kati Kline and her son Luke get a free lunch from Capital School District Cafeteria staff workers Lori Ridgeway and Lynwood Lawhorn at the Capital City Farmers Market on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“The Sankofa Center gives us the number of kids they’re expecting each day and we prepare the lunches and drop them off, always including a few extra so if extra kids show up, they don’t have to go without lunch,” Mr. Trower said.

Lunches will be served at the farmer’s market from noon to 2 p.m. every Wednesday until Aug. 17, at Booker T. Washington Elementary from 11 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday until Aug. 17 and at the Sankofa Community Center from 12:30 to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday until Aug. 19.

No matter the lunch distribution location, parents or guardians are not required to accompany their child but the children must be younger than 18.

The Summer Food Service Program is expected to distribute more than 200 millions meals across the nation before the 2016-2017 school year begins.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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