Since 2011, members of the Dublin community have volunteered to make sure students who depend on the free- and reduced-price lunch program during the school year are not left hungry during the summer months.

The kids summer-lunch program has grown in size since its inception and now averages about 85 children per day, said co-coordinator Sheryl Hardin, a Daniel Wright Elementary School teacher.

"We just wanted to continue feeding kids over the summer and give them a place to play with people who want to play with them," she said.

The lunch program will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, June 4 through Aug. 2, in Daniel Wright, 2335 West Case Road.

Of the 755 students at Daniel Wright, 54.7 percent are registered for free- and reduced-price lunches, said principal Lucas Bauer.

About 15.5 percent of students are registered districtwide, said Doug Baker, the district's spokesman.

Students in the Daniel Wright attendance area can have transportation provided via the school district's buses, Hardin said.

About 10 to 15 percent of children who attend the program come from outside the school's attendance area, she said.

All children ages 1 through 18 may participate in the program, but the targeted ages are preschoolers through students who have graduated from fifth grade, Hardin said.

Parents need to stay with children younger than preschool age.

Middle or high school students can eat free lunches at the program and serve as volunteers for younger children.

Food is provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hardin said.

Students also are sent home with food for the weekend through the Blessings in a Backpack program.

Josie Stewart, a Daniel Wright teacher and program co-coordinator, said the summer-lunch program helps teachers and volunteers build relationships with parents and children.

Volunteers arrive 30 minutes before kids to help set up, Stewart said.

From 11 a.m. to noon, kids can do crafts, play games and partake in activities inside the gym and outside the school.

A writing center also gives kids the opportunity to write notes or letters. During lunch, the volunteers remain with the kids to talk with them.

Donations from teachers and school book drives held within the Dublin City School District also ensure that students are sent home with books each week, Stewart said.

Daniel Wright teacher Mary Kate Patterson said she and the other program leaders used to go door to door to get word out to families about the program, neighbors now get the message out through word of mouth.

The program is more than just providing food for students, she said.

Reading and literacy is emphasized, and the conversations volunteers have with students also is helpful for the English language learners who participate, Patterson said.

The program also gives students service hour opportunities for church programs and honor societies, Patterson said.

"It's a lot of community involvement," she said.

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