West Shore offers a ride to summer meals program
Last year, West Shore School District started a free summer meals program for its students through the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. This year, the program is adding free transportation for kids who participate.
Although other school districts have summer meals programs, West Shore seems to be the only one in York County that now offers transportation to the free meals for the students. York City Schools is another district that offers free meals to students regardless of financial status, but the program does not offer busing to the meals.
York City's program is funded through the district, but it is later reimbursed. Spokeswoman Erin James said the district is primarily a walking district anyway, with few kids taking buses to school.
West Shore was able to bus the kids to the program because First Student, a school bus transportation service the district uses, will not be charging the schools for the drivers over the summer, according to West Shore Food Service Director Ryan Argot.
"We know there are students and families out there that are struggling financially," Argot said. "This is an opportunity for us to provide them a nutritious meal at no cost to the family and without charging the district taxpayers."
Food bank: The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank works with school districts to provide healthy lunches, and sometimes breakfast, on Monday through Thursday during the summer to students in school districts where more than 50 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches. The organization can tell which areas are in need by using a mapping device located on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.
"We knew the West Shore district had pockets of poverty where you would think that there may not be," said Dave Lloyd, youth programs manager for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. "It's necessary, and it's very helpful to reach children that normally might not be able to have lunch that particular day."
West Shore's program is offered Monday through Thursday at two locations, depending on where the students are picked up from: Washington Heights Elementary at 531 Walnut St., Lemoyne, and Cedar Cliff High School at 103 Carlisle Road, Camp Hill. Meals are served between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. through Aug. 11. Parents wishing to have their children participate are encouraged to fill out an online survey on West Shore's school website so that enough food can be provided. Several of the pickup locations for kids fall in York County.
Other districts: York City School District is another local school district that benefits from the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank because more than 50 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.
York City's school meals are also offered Monday through Thursday each week through Aug. 4. Meals are served from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Hannah Penn K-8.
Other school districts either have a closed summer meals program that is not open to all students, such as York Suburban, or have no summer meals program at all, such as Dallastown. However, all school districts are required to post information regarding the location of free meals for students over the summer months through the Summer Food Service Program. This comes after the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which authorized funding and set policy for several nutrition programs.
Parents and students can learn the location of free summer meals provided by the Summer Food Service Program by using the following methods:
- Call 211
- Call 1.866.3Hungry or 1.877.8Hambre
- Text “MEALPA” to 877877 during the summer months
- Visit the website www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks (note, this replaces the whyhunger.org website)
- Use the site locator for smartphones — Rangeapp.org