Partnership treats youth with weekly lunch

Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
For eight weeks this summer the Dubois County Public Health Partnership’s Healthy Eating, Active Living directive will provide healthy lunches to children 18 years and younger every Tuesday at the Teen Outback in Huntingburg. Reagan Sermersheim, 8, left, Anden Buehler, 5, and his sister Jaelyn, 8, all of Huntingburg, joked around while enjoying ham and cheese subs from Subway at Teen Outback on Tuesday afternoon. Along with sandwiches, HEAL and the Tri-State Food Bank provided sliced apples and milk.


HUNTINGBURG — Each Tuesday, area children are being treated to a meal at Teen Outback.

Between 11 a.m. and noon, youth age 18 and younger can receive a meal of a ham sandwich with lettuce and tomato, sliced apples and a carton of milk.

The Summer Food Service Program is coordinated through the Huntingburg branch of the Healthy Eating, Active Living, a directive of the Dubois County Public Health Partnership, said Ashlee Sudbury, Purdue Extension’s community wellness coordinator for Dubois County.

“The mission of HEAL is to provide opportunities for healthy eating and active living in Dubois County,”  she said, “with a goal to increase the level of health and wellness of all individuals in our community.”

The cost is covered by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Local companies also helped, including Subway in Huntingburg, which discounted the price of the sandwich enough to be covered by the federal dollars, and the Huntingburg Park Department, which provides a group of eligible children through its summer program. The park’s summer camp meets on Tuesday at Teen Outback.

“It’s a wonderful example of how community collaboration and community partnerships work,” Sudbury said. “When the community decides they are going to work together on something, they get it done.”

The Tri-State Food Bank worked with Sudbury to find a community that would meet income requirements for the USDA funding. And since Sudbury is working to put more nutritional initiatives throughout the county, she worked with the food bank and Huntingburg HEAL to establish the local weekly lunch.

“An issue with a lot of summer feeding programs is that you have a hard time getting kids there,” Sudbury said. “The park department has a summer camp that will already have the kids at Teen Outback. So we can feed all those kids, if they want to participate.”

Although the program targets the youth in the city and those who are participating in the parks’ camp, any youth age 18 and younger who comes to Teen Outback during mealtime can eat free of charge. The youth can just show up, Sudbury said.

About 50 youngsters ate on Tuesday, which is about the same number that ate last week, the first day of the program.

Organizers hope to expand the program next year. “We’re hoping that next summer we can do the same type of program or expand it by adding another day,” Sudbury said. “It all takes a little bit of coordination with the logistics.”

The lunch will be held every Tuesday through July 24.

As part of community wellness efforts, Sudbury mentioned that the youth can again go to the  Jasper and Birdseye public libraries for snacks, the second year for those programs. The summer snacks started last week and will be provided through July.

Snacks are at the Jasper Public Library on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2 to 3 p.m.; there will not be snacks on Wednesday, July 4, as the library is closed. The Birdseye Public Library has snacks for youth on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 4 p.m.

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