School dinners fill a voidKids in Superior are being offered a free supper, and they don’t even have to sing for it.
By: By Emily Kram and Maria Lockwoodfirstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Superior Telegram
Kids in Superior are being offered a free supper, and they don’t even have to sing for it.
As of Jan. 3, three Superior schools will serve hot meals every school night. Superior High School began offering free supper to students in October. When school resumes after winter break, meals are also available at Superior Middle School and Northern Lights Elementary School. The free meals are offered Monday through Friday and are available to anyone younger than 18. The initiative is funded through the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
“We certainly don’t want to be taking kids away from family dinners with this program,” said Jeanne Hopkins, director of food services for the Superior school district. Instead, she said, it provides kids with a nutritious meal they might not have the opportunity to get otherwise.
The SHS program has met with a warm welcome. Two students were served on the first night, and 36 participated in the first week of the program. Up to 212 students per night are served now.
“The kids start looking for supper when the bell rings at 3:05 p.m.,” Hopkins said. Some take it with them on the bus, others munch on it before heading to practice.
The food selection is limited for the earliest meal-seekers at SHS. Hopkins said cold subs are the main fare until hot meals are served around 5:30 p.m., with the program closing down by 8 p.m. Only hot meals will be served at the new sites. Supper will be offered 5-6 p.m. at the middle school and from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Northern Lights. Examples of meals include pizza or grilled chicken sandwiches with side dishes heavy on fresh fruit and vegetables.
At the high school, the meals are part of an initiative to provide an evening spot for kids to gather. The space at the high school houses a foosball table and a couch, giving students a place not only to enjoy a meal but to relax as well. The high school library also has extended hours Monday through Thursday. That effort was spearheaded by Principal Kent Bergum to coincide with the school’s One-to-One laptop initiative and provide students with Internet access.
The high school supper program has been a success so far. Athletes in particular are taking advantage of the program. Both Spartan athletes and those from visiting teams drop by on game nights. Students in band have also made use of the free suppers. On the Friday of the Christmas City of the North Parade, Hopkins said SHS served more than 200 free suppers to students.
Parents and guardians can purchase a meal for themselves for $3.15. Hopkins said schools do not receive a set amount of money hoping students will show up. Instead, the school serves meals and is later reimbursed for the food served. The school only cooks up a set number of hot suppers, however.
The Superior School Board first discussed the new meal program at its Nov. 5 committee of the whole meeting. Business manager Jack Amadio said the program fills a void for some students.
“Some kids, their ears perk up because they think, ‘I’ve got a place to eat now,’” Amadio said.
Board member John Hendricks questioned whether the district should take on the chore of providing free supper for students.
“I think that has real value. It’s just a philosophical thing for me,” he said. Hendricks said the district does a good job of caring for its students, but he wondered how many other services schools could afford to provide. Board member John Asp said as long as the program isn’t being abused, he believes it is a good thing for the district.