The school year is over, but the Sioux Falls School District's free summer lunch program has just begun.
For Jamie Hill, the middle of May means she has three picky mouths to feed. Instead of eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day, the summer lunch program helps her kids try foods they normally wouldn’t.
“If I made it at home, they would be throwing a fit and screaming and not eating, whereas here, it just seems I think the environment helps them. They see other kids eating, so they’re more willing to sit nice and eat the food,” Hill said.
Getting her kids to eat is only one of the benefits of this program. Because Hill is a teacher, her children eat their meals and snacks at school during the school year, but the added expense of buying food during the summer months can quickly add up.
“Having this available to us really kind of just keeps our finances stable throughout the year rather than up and down throughout the summertime,” Hill said.
The summer lunch program runs until August 8, feeding anywhere from 500 to 600 children each day at six Sioux Falls locations.
“We certainly know that kids who are hungry aren’t able to learn during the school year and the same thing goes for the summer months also. So we want to have a place where they can come; it’s somewhat typical to their school day, the noon time. They’re used to eating lunch, and they can come and join us here,” Child Nutrition Supervisor Joni Davis said.
Kids have been doing that for more than 20 years.
The program is available for anyone between the ages of one and 18.
The meal is provided from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. each weekday at the following locations in Sioux Falls.
Terry Redlin Elementary
Laura B. Anderson Elementary
Anne Sullivan Elementary
Horace Mann Elementary
Sioux Falls School District Food Service Center