Reading's free lunch program extends beyond school year

READING, Pa. - Summer is here, and kids are playing and enjoying the weather, but that doesn't mean the school lunches so many kids in Reading depend on stop being served.

"When they say it takes a village to raise a child, this is the perfect example of that," said Kurt Myers, the food service director for the Reading School District.

The district provides students with breakfast and lunch all summer. The Summer Feeding Program reaches all 19 schools in the district, as well as three mobile sites, including one at the Oakbrook Homes.

"We serve about 2,000, between 1,800-2,000 students a day during the summer months," said Myers.

An important idea behind the program is not only to feed the kids, but also to feed them healthy foods. For instance, in Thursday's lunch, they had both carrots and broccoli.

"During the course of the day, when they're playing and stuff, you know, they don't take the time out to eat carrots," said grandmother Renee Little.

Little takes her three grandchildren to lunch every day. Before they break bread, the students also participate in a literacy program. Little is a volunteer.

"I just wanted to give back to my community," she said.

In the next few weeks, the program will try to throw more local foods into the mix.

"We're waiting for the orchard owner to say the fruit is ripe, and then that will be incorporated in the meals that the kids eat," said Myers.

Kids under 18 are welcome, and anyone under 21 with special needs is encouraged to come, too.

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