The Summer Food Program has successfully served millions of children over the past 20 years in the state.
“Last summer sites in Lawrence served 46,000 meals to Lawrence kids, and statewide in Kansas we served 1.33 million meals in 2016”, said director of the Childhood Hunger Initiative, Rebekah Gaston.
While many kids are getting access to free healthy foods during their 3 month break from school, Gaston said the state could do better.
“So Kansas ranks pretty low for participation for kids in the summer foods program….Kansas ranked 50th 2 years ago, 48th last year, and we were up to 45th in this year’s report.”
Many like coordinator for the “Fuel Up 4 Summer Program”, Susan Johnson, believe the lower numbers are due to lack of awareness, especially in the summer.
“During the summer in July we started seeing a reduction of kids participating in the summer foods program.”
In efforts to increase participation, Johnson, along with other organizers put on a spike event at Boom Comics.
“Why we like this site is because Boom Comics is really an attraction to pre-teens and teen, and we really wanted to grab some more of those kids” said Johnson.
“So this is just another chance for us to just boost that participation, and let people know that we’re here every single day at all 10 sites through the beginning of August”, said Michael Showalter with the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.
Kids not only had access to a free lunch, they were able to read comics and play games with other children.
It’s something owner of Boom Comics, Matthew Kregar, said is equally as important.
“Well it’s important to pull kids away from their video games, and give them an actual something to read because that will help them further their education quicker.”
Although there is a slight drop in children attending these events, organizers are hopeful Kansas will continue to receive higher rankings in the years to come.
There are 10 summer meal sites in Lawrence, and they will be through the beginning of August.
For more information on locations and times you can click the link below.