The District has teamed up with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to serve hot and nutritious meals to children for free at 18 schools.
The menu, which changes daily, features items that were popular with students during the school year, said Mary Kay Auger, director of operations for the food and child nutrition department. The meals meet the standards set by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
Breakfast options include eggs, turkey sausage and pancakes. Lunch and dinner might be chicken patties or “taco boats.” The schools also offer two varieties of vegetables and fresh fruit for each meal, as well as low-fat or fat-free milk.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will reimburse the District for the cost of the meals.
Families say the convenient locations make it easier to keep their children fed during summer break.
“It’s helpful, because when you have a large family, you’re able to feed them and not worry about them not getting certain foods,” said Bentiza Montgomery, who said she takes her five children to Walton School for lunch.
Community leaders are praising efforts to serve families nutritious food, especially in neighborhoods with limited access to healthy meals.
“The reality is that low-income, minority populations tend to have greater health disparities, and those health disparities are not relative to lack of food -- it’s relative to too much of the food that’s not good for you,” said Timothy Tramble, executive director of Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc.
“I’m happy that they’re focusing not just on getting people food, but getting people nutritious and wholesome food products that would contribute to their overall health,” said Tramble, whose nonprofit organization serves the Kinsman and Central neighborhoods.
Lowell Perry, executive director of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood organization, said the meals program also could help forge meaningful connections between schools and the community.
“The more we can have kids and families coming to the schools, the more the school can be seen as a community resource,” Perry said.
Marion-Sterling School Principal Adrianna Chestnut said the meals program demonstrates the District’s desire to consistently support families, even when school isn’t in session.
“We’re providing those safe spaces throughout the city so they know they’re cared for and they’re loved,” she said.
Helping children in need is just one of the goals of the program. Joseph Vaughn, director of food and child nutrition services, said he hopes all families take advantage of the program and make it a part of their summer routine.<