There Is Such A Thing As A Free Lunch

When school's in session, getting your kids a healthy lunch isn't a big problem. But summertime can be a different story. It's called the Summer Food Service Program. And it's put on by the East Missouri Action Agency, to make sure all kids ages 18 and under have access to a free, healthy lunch this summer.

To the kids at Washington Park in Cape Girardeau, eating lunch is just a few minutes out of their day. But what they don't realize is that eating it will keep them healthy, because they're getting the nutrition they need. Program Director Nancy Keim says, "There is a set pattern to this lunch, and every meal is a balanced meal."

So what's for lunch? The cheese sandwich covers the protein and grain groups. The coleslaw and celery are part of the fruit or vegetable. There's peanut butter, something extra for them to eat their celery sticks with, and there's milk that covers the dairy.

The lunches not only fill their stomachs, but also their minds. Christy Sprengel, a health educator, says, "Since these kids are growing, not only their bodies are growing, but also their minds, so the food is feeding their bodies and their minds."..

And the lunch is giving them a chance to get out, and spend time with their friends. Keim says, "They have a good time and play and they get along well. I think it's good for them to know all the kids in their neighborhood." Summer lunch programs like this are becoming common all over the Heartland. In Cape Girardeau, nearly five hundred kids get the free lunches every weekday through July.