Free breakfast/lunch program returns to MAPS

MANISTEE — The Manistee Area Public Schools food service program will be opening is final session of the free summer breakfast/lunch program at Manistee High School on Monday morning.

The free breakfast/summer lunch program at the Manistee Area Public Schools that is put on by the Michigan Department of Education and United States Department of Agriculture returns on Monday. It will only take place at Manistee High School this time with breakfast from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m. and lunch from 11:15 a.m. until noon.

The free breakfast/summer lunch program at the Manistee Area Public Schools that is put on by the Michigan Department of Education and United States Department of Agriculture returns on Monday. It will only take place at Manistee High School this time with breakfast from 8:15 to 8:45 a.m. and lunch from 11:15 a.m. until noon.

Food service director Kathy Gutowski said this time the program will be held only at the Manistee High School building. The program will coincide with the MAPS summer school classes and other back-to-school activities over the next several weeks as preparations begin for the 2016-17 school year.

“We are going to run it Monday through Thursday from Aug. 1-18,” said Gutowski. “It will  be at the same serving times as last time with breakfast from 8:15 -8:45 a.m. and lunch from 11:15 a.m. to noon.”

The Michigan Department of Education Summer Food Service Program, in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture, is open free of charge to children 18 years of age and under or persons up to 26 who are enrolled in an educational program for the mentally or physically disabled that is recognized by a state or local  public educational agency.

MAPS does not pay anything for the program and only benefits from running it.

Gutowski said that the program is open to all children regardless of if they live in the MAPS district. Even people who are visiting the area can take advantage of the free lunches for their children.

Adults can also eat with the children for $3.25, day care groups are encouraged to eat as are visitors to the community.

“The only thing that adults have to be aware of is they can’t eat anything off of a child’s tray, because the USDA will not allow it,” she said.

The menu follows the regular school menu format for lunches.

What makes the program special is there isn’t any income requirements. Gutowski said the more who show up the better, because it makes the program look good to the USDA and in the first session this year that ran from June 30 to July 1, participation was down.

“The more we serve makes it more likely that we will be able to do it again next year,” she said. “It’s been a little slow so far, but we are hoping with summer school taking place this time it will pick things up.”

It also helps those less fortunate children, who get the opportunity to receive a good meal.

“For some kids our lunch is the one good meal they get every day during the school year, but when school ends for the summer, so does that meal,” she said.

The program also benefits the MAPS food service department employees who get some expanded hours and the opportunity to gain additional skills.

“This gives the employees that maybe don’t give the chance to cook that much the chance to do it,” she said.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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