Results of Free Summer Lunch Program for Highland County Youth
We mentioned in part one of our story on the recent Highland County Board of Supervisors regular meeting that three presentations were made. The third presentation that evening was given by Sarah Rexrode, Director of the Highland County Department of Social Services, and Tomi Herold, librarian for the Highland County Public Library. They came to report on the success of this summer’s free lunch program for local youth.
The social services department was the program sponsor, and it worked in conjunction with the library staff and facilities to deliver free daily lunch to area youth. This was the second year of the free lunch program after having completed a four-week pilot program in 2018, during which 93 lunches were served.
This summer, the program ran for seven and a half weeks and 362 lunches were served. One reason for the increased participation this year was that summer school students also took part in the program. Ms. Rexrode praised the efforts of Malorie Brower, who was the social services representative tasked with ensuring that the program was carried out in accordance with federal and state requirements. Ms. Brower created the daily menus and she made sure the library facility was staffed and ready each day to meet the lunch demand. Library staff managed the program three days per week while Ms. Rexrode’s staff managed it the other two days.
Ms. Herold added that, as head librarian, she used this as an opportunity to distribute Scholastic reading material to each child, each day observing that by the end of the summer, each child who participated had amassed a nice-sized personal, home library.
Other organizations recognized by Ms. Rexrode and Ms. Herold for their assistance include the Allegheny Mountain Institute, which provided free produce for the kids to take home, and the Highland County Recreation Commission, which provided weekly door prizes throughout the summer-long program.
Funding for the free lunch program originates with the United States Department of Agriculture. Those funds are passed to the states which then distribute them locally. The funds pay for the food consumed in addition to manpower and marketing of the program. Access to the free lunch is not based on need. The purpose of the program is to ensure that all youth who want lunch can get it. Ms. Rexrode noted that more children could and would be served if transportation to Monterey from other parts of the county were not an issue. In response to a supervisor’s question, she also pointed out that staffing was not available to serve multiple lunch sites in the county.
This is Mickey Frank Thomas for Allegheny Mountain Radio.