Dublin Villager

Summer lunch program is about more than food

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About 20 volunteers are needed each day to staff Dublin's Free Summer Lunch program.

The program fed an average of 75 to 80 children each day last year and organizers Sheryl Hardin and Josie Stewart are working to make sure children ages 1 to 18 years old are fed this summer.

"We both love it," Stewart said of the four-year-old program.

"We really want to feed kids in the summer," Hardin agreed.

The duo teaches at Wright Elementary School during the school year and run the summer lunch program there during the summer.

Through the program they have met a few future students.

"It's great community builder," Stewart said. "Two boys have been coming since they were 2 and they're in kindergarten now. "They think they're our best friends. It's a good way for kids to get comfortable with us and comfortable with the building."

From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, June 9 to July 31, children can get a free lunch and little entertainment at the West Case Road school.

"They play from 11 a.m. to noon and eat from noon to 12:30 p.m.," Stewart said.

Lunch is paid for by the federal government because Wright Elementary participates in the federal breakfast program.

But the entire program can't be done without the help of volunteers.

"They help with crafts, play outside, play board games, help kids with their lunch trays and eating," Hardin said, adding it's a two-hour commitment for volunteers.

With four years of organizing the lunch program under their belts, Hardin and Stewart have a little more help this year.

"We're fortunate this year because Sheryl and I asked staff to help with leadership," Stewart said.

"We have six or seven staff members who have taken a leadership position because Sheryl and I can't be here every day. Without volunteers this wouldn't happen. We have amazing staff here."

Dublin teens have volunteered for the free summer lunch program in past years, earning service hours for school.

"The teens are pretty remarkable," Stewart said.

Some volunteers even help with supplies for crafts and activities.

"Some volunteers come weekly and bring their own craft supplies," Hardin said. "We get gift card donations to buy supplies."

Volunteers can bring their children along, but Hardin said they should register them for the program to participate in activities and get lunch.

To sign up to volunteer for the Dublin Free Summer Lunch program, look online at the Dublin City School's website, Wright Elementary website or at http://vols.pt/c8x5mi.

The Northwest Presbyterian Church provides busing for the summer lunch program and Hardin said routes and pickup times are established once attendance information is completed.

Parents will be notified of bus stops and times via phone or email.

Registration forms for the summer lunch program can be picked up in the Wright Elementary office, at 2335 West Case Road or on the Wright Elementary website at dublin schools.net/wrightelementary_ home.apsx.

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