SE district offers first summer food program


FERDINAND — Families in need will be able to get some relief from the Southeast Dubois County School Corporation this summer.

For the first time, the district is offering a summer food program to provide meals for children. The program is a continuation of the grab-and-go meal service the corporation provided during the COVID-19 school closure. This week was the first week for the summer program.

The Indiana Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture determine which schools can offer summer food programs — which serve children 18 years old and younger — based on the number of families that utilize the free and reduced-price lunch programs during the school year. Usually, Southeast Dubois does not have enough families on free or reduced lunch to offer a summer food program. However, this year, the state eased those guidelines due to the economic hardship brought on by COVID-19 closures.

Southeast Dubois Superintendent Jamie Pund said she’s glad the district can continue to offer the service.

“We want to be helpful, and it’s a good way to make connections with our kids and our community,” she said.

In the weeks since schools closed, the corporation has also collected donations from local businesses and families to help support the program beyond the funding the state offers. Those donations have allowed the food program to extend beyond meals for students to other needs families with children have, such as baby formula or diapers.

“That doesn’t come from the food we get from the state,” Pund said. “But we’re fortunate to have resources we can tap into to help.”

The donations also helped get the program off the ground, since the school corporation did not yet qualify for state help when schools closed in March. Once the state eased guidelines to qualify, Southeast Dubois began using state funds to obtain food and donations to cover the administrative costs of running the program, such as paying staff to prepare and hand out meals.

During the school closure, Pund estimated that about 200 students were fed through the grab-and-go program. She’s not sure what to expect over the summer months, but they’re planning to serve a similar number.

The meal kits provide four breakfasts and four lunches. To sign up for the week, parents fill out a survey that Pund sends to each family in the corporation on Fridays. Meals are picked up Tuesdays at Cedar Crest Intermediate School.

Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools is also running a summer food program, which is housed at Fifth Street Elementary. There, staff will serve meals via grab-and-go daily from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. beginning Monday and running through Aug. 11.

In Huntingburg, the Teen Outback is running a summer food program that began June 1 and runs through the end of July. They will provide a grab-and-go lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.

For more information on the state’s summer food program and to find other locations in the Dubois County area, click here.

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