Washington County Summer Lunch Programs In Full Swing
By Leah Williams
A new program in Nashville looks to help feed the young community during the summer months.
TWIGS has been dishing out meals from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Nashville Middle School since June 3. The program serves meals for children up to age 18 years old, and the menu include several healthy options as well as a snack for later.
Kathy Barczewski said the food comes from donations from the St. Louis Food Bank and the program is able to pay a reduced price for items from food companies, such as Eckridge Farms and Prairie Farms. Several members of the community have also made contributions.
“We have a lot of children in the area who are provided weekend backpacks and meals, so we knew that there was a need,” Barczewski said. “We knew that we need to try to have something here for the summer.”
Started in Granite City, TWIGS has a mission to provide a lunch to local children who are at risk of not having a lunch during the summer months when school is not in session. Many of these children are those who qualify for the nationally funded free and reduced lunch program.
According to the Illinois State Board of Education, approximately 43 percent of the students at Nashville Grade and Middle schools and 28 percent at Nashville Community High School are eligible to enroll in the national reduced and free lunch program.
Barczewski said TWIGS is meant to help out a variety of people this summer.
“It’s here to help everybody,” she said. “Working parents, babysitters, camp volunteers. We want to help give kids a good balanced meal.”
The typical menu includes a cracker, meat and cheese plate; fresh fruit; yogurt; and a snack to take for later.
While TWIGS is only available at one location in Nashville this season, there is potential for it to grow in the future if more volunteers are interested in helping. Barczewski said plans are for the program to be available weekdays up until the Friday before the school starts. Throughout the first two weeks, the program has served anywhere from 25 to 50 individuals.
“We have had several com here and get a meal before heading to the pool or they are coming back from camp,” she said. “We have had a lot of different people who have utilized it.”
The Twigs program is also taking donations, and anyone interested in helping out can contact the school for their contribution.
Okawville Summer Lunch Program
A free summer lunch program has been set up at the Okawville Community Club Park, where meals will be provided to families in the Okawville area.
The net meal is set for June 21, with activities provided by the UCC Senior youth.
Other dates include June 28, July 12, July 19, July 26 and August 2. The final date will also have back-to-school supplies handed out.