Children ages 18 and younger can eat breakfast and lunch for free at five locations this summer.
Leander ISD, in partnership with the Texas Department of Agriculture, will be serving free meals through July 29. The summer food program includes breakfast and lunch. Children do not need to attend an LISD school to receive meals and there is no application or registration required. Adults over age 18 are able to purchase breakfast for $2 and lunch for $3 at all program sites.
For Summer Feeding Supervisor Kathy Bell, who has been with the program since its launch in 2010, the program holds a special place in her heart.
“It touches me because I once was a single parent raising four kids, so I know how hard it is,” said Bell. “I know how single parents struggle and it makes a big different in your life and in the kids lives. When they come in, they’re excited, they have a big smile on their face because they don’t have to wonder where their next meal is going to come from.”
Bell sees the program as a much-needed benefit for families in the area.
“We see the need that’s there for this program,” explained Bell. “During the year, we see the children, we talk to the children. We talk to the parents and so we know that they’re very grateful for this program during the summer and the school year."
More than 400,000 meals were served during last year's statewide program, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture.
Leander High School sophomore Laryssa Gross-Ellis was at Running Brushy Middle School with her two younger sisters, 7-year-old Roguen Dodd and 4-year-old Danika Dodd, on June 20.
“I went to Running Brushy as a kid,” said Laryssa. “This is a really great program to be a part of when your family doesn’t have the time to cook or the fresh ingredients they use here.”
As the girls dug into their meal of pasta with fresh tomato sauce with a side of broccoli, cauliflower and ripe strawberries for dessert, Laryssa spoke of the program’s importance in her life.
“It means a lot to me because sometimes things can get stressful at home,” Laryssa said. “We’ll come here and I can kind of reminisce... It’s something I can share with my sisters.”
Not far from Laryssa, Roguen and Danika sat Emily Espinosa, 8, of Georgetown, eating her meal while helping her mother, Beth — an LISD supplemental reading teacher — give away free children’s literature to guests.
“The food is great and I like giving away books,” Emily said.
The Leander ISD Educational Excellence Foundation collects the books throughout the year from book drives and school events. The funding is made possible by donations.
The summer meal program is offered Monday through Friday at five following locations within LISD borders: Bagdad Elementary School, 800 Deercreek Lane, Leander; Cypress Creek Apartments, 2101 S. Lakeline Blvd., Cedar Park; Giddens Elementary School, 1500 Timberwood Drive, Cedar Park; Twin Lakes Fellowship, 1150 S. Bell Blvd., Cedar Park; and Running Brushy Middle School, 2303 N. Lakeline Blvd., Cedar Park.
Knowles Elementary School was originally listed as a meal site but has had to close its operation due to renovations to its cafeteria.
Breakfast is served at each site from 9:30-10:30 a.m. and lunch from from noon-1 p.m.
For more information, visit LISD’s website at www.leanderisd.org or the Texas Department of Agriculture’s website at http://summerfood.org.