Kids entitled to free lunch this summer

Lawton_Just as learning doesn't end when school lets out, neither does a child's need for good nutrition.  Lawton Public Schools (LPS) has teamed up with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to serve free summer breakfasts and lunches to any child under the age of 18.  This week is the first summer week that lunch meals are being served.  School officials say that they are already feeding an average of 800 kids per day.

"The Kids Zone" is one of the most popular serving sites for the program.  There, they serve a nutritious lunch followed by rigorous exercise and many parents don't realize the meals are free.  Signs mark serving sites for breakfast and lunch, which issomething not all children are able to have.  "The program is so important because the children don't always have a place to eat lunch," says LPS Food Service Manager Paula Clayton.  "They don't always have food at home to eat."

School officials say there is a huge turnout for the meals each summer, but they think it could grow even bigger.  LPS serves the food, and provides locations where it can be distributed, but it is the USDA that foots the bill, which is why children outside of the LPS school district can come, too.  LPS officials say the only thing a child must do to get a meal is show up.  "I think it's very important," says Clayton.  "During the summer a lot of kids don't get to eat as well because of school not being in session."

During the summer, the program doesn't require parent income information or any other household information.  "The parents are grateful, because in these times of economic distress they have a place where they can get more food," says Clayton.  By providing meals to children, LPS and the USDA are also providing a safe and interactive environment for kids to be during the summer.  "We get to work off that meal and go exercise some."  The five basic food groups are covered in each healthy and kid-friendly meal - some complete with chicken nuggets, burgers, and pizza.