Summer food program to follow traditional format

Johnson County’s schools will revert to the pre-pandemic format in offering students free meals this summer, with on-site meals available rather than meals to go.

During the summers of 2020 and 2021, all Johnson County schools had the ability to serve free meals to students — as much as a week’s worth of food at a time — in drive thru lines that helped people feed their children as they faced the difficulties of economic setbacks and the risk of COVID-19 infection.

With pandemic restrictions lifted, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program will revert to guidelines seen in 2019 and earlier.

“It will help families who are struggling to feed their kids,” said Kim Combs, food services director for Clark-Pleasant schools. “With the cost of gas and groceries going up, wages may not have gone up enough to cover that and they may not be able to meet their food budget. This will help them supplement it.”

Only schools with at least 50% of their students receiving free and reduced-price lunch are eligible to serve meals, and with Indian Creek, Center Grove and Edinburgh schools not meeting the threshold, just Greenwood, Franklin and Clark-Pleasant schools will have buildings that qualify to serve meals.

Still, anyone 18 years old and younger will be served at any school serving meals. Registration and identification are not required.

At Greenwood schools, Isom Elementary School will serve children lunches from June 1 to July 22, Monday through Friday, excluding July 1 and 4. Children will have to eat the meals, served from 11 a.m. to noon each day, on-site. Lunches at Isom will include pizza, chicken, Uncrustables, Bosco sticks and milk, said Leslie Hicks, food services director.

Children in Franklin can head to Northwood Elementary School for their summer meals, which will include breakfast, served 8 to 9 a.m., and lunch, served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The meals will be served June 1 through July 22, but service is closed on July 4.

Breakfast will include chicken biscuits, egg and cheese biscuits, and sausage pancake wraps. For lunch, students will be offered steak burgers, cheese pizzas, mini cheese pizza bagels, pizza calzones, chicken strips and walking tacos. Fresh fruit, vegetables and milk will be available as well, said Elizabeth Edwards, food services director for Franklin schools.

Clark-Pleasant schools will have three buildings students can eat lunch at: Break-O-Day Elementary School, with lunch from 11 a.m. to noon; Pleasant Crossing Elementary School, serving from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Grassy Creek Elementary School, offering meals from noon to 1 p.m. The sites will be open Monday through Friday, from June 1 to July 15, with the exception of July 4, according to a school district flier for the summer meal program.

The lunches will include a yogurt combo meal, cheese pizza, chicken nuggets, and fresh fruits and vegetables, Combs said.