Reynoldsburg News

Summer program serves weekday meals to kids


The Reynoldsburg school district's food service department will continue to feed hungry kids this summer, but new this year will be fun activities and visits from COSI and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Jennifer Drake, assistant to Wendy Novotni, district food service director, said the summer lunch program opened June 2 and will continue, Monday through Friday, through Aug. 1 at several locations.

One location will include activities for children after they've finished eating lunch.

"We will have an educator at the Reynoldsburg High School Livingston Avenue location Tuesdays through Thursdays, providing physical activities, games and nutrition quizzes after lunch," Drake said.

Breakfast is served from 8:30 to 9 a.m. and lunch is offered from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the school, 6699 E. Livingston Ave.

Activities take place from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays at that location.

Each Thursday, COSI will fill the activities time slot, sending instructors to teach and demonstrate science games, Drake said.

A special visit from the Columbus Zoo is scheduled from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Thursday, July 3.

"I think it is wonderful for the kids to come in and keep busy with different activities and have a little fun after lunch," Drake said.

She said the summer food program is open to all children ages 1 through 18.

The program also will be offered from 8 to 9 a.m. for breakfast and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch at Hannah Ashton Middle School, 1482 Jackson St.

Drake said the district has a food van that will deliver lunch at three other locations: from 11:30 to noon in the Postwoods neighborhood; 12:30 to 1 p.m. at Baldwin Road Junior High, 2300 Baldwin Road; and from 1:30 to 2 p.m. at the Reynoldsburg branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 1402 Brice Road.

Drake said children will not be asked for any kind of identification -- all children who show up will be fed.

"We tried to choose locations where kids could walk to, so they did not have to rely on parents dropping them off," she said. "Some are areas where there may be a lot of apartment complexes, or as in the case at Baldwin Junior High, where a lot of kids will be walking in the area."

She said parents may drop off children at the locations and are not required to stay and supervise.

All the food is prepared at the Livingston Avenue campus and all meals meet the nutritional requirements of lunches served during the school year.

Drake said the menu changes every day, but a typical lunch could be cold Italian subs, celery and ranch dressing, Doritos and milk.

Breakfast could be cereal, milk and juice or Nutri-Grain bars or Pop-Tarts.

"We sent the menu home with the kiddos on the last day of school and have posted lawn signs about the program in some areas," Drake said. "The more people that find out about it, the better."

Funded by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the summer lunch program began in Reynoldsburg schools about five years ago, when then-Food Service Director Connie Fatseas, who retired last year, said she began to worry about kids going hungry when school let out for the summer.

She said the average number of children served through the summer meal program last year was between 700 and 800 a day.