FAIRBORN — It’s 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, and Fairborn City School District Cooks Christina Wilcox-Reigel and Jeff Greer are bagging up fruit and pulling Bosco Pizza Sticks out of the oven at Baker Middle School.
They aren’t preparing meals to fuel students through the remainder of the school day, as the district is on summer break, but there are still local children who need fed. They are instead gearing up to take a van-full of free lunches out to a handful of sites within the Fairborn community to give away as part of the Fairborn City Schools Summer Lunch Program.
“Our community is in need,” Wilcox-Reigel said. “We have more diversity compared to other cities, which isn’t a bad thing, but there’s not always as many resources offered compared to other counties.”
“We know that there’s a few families that if we aren’t feeding them, they’re not eating,” Greer added.
Child Nutrition Supervisor Kathleen Housman pointed out that the meals are for hungry children who are 18 and younger, regardless of their household income. She said there can be a stigma concerning asking for help, especially in regards to food assistance. Therefore, if everyone is welcome to participate in the Summer Lunch Program — regardless of whether or not they are in financial trouble — it is more likely that the meals will reach those who truly are in need without the embarrassment.
“If we cast a wide net, everyone is included, and we had families who come out who don’t need help, we would get more families to come out who did,” Housman said. “We want kids to eat.”
Participation does not require any type of sign-up or income verification process. They just show up to the sites at the designated times and line up behind the van to receive a free lunch. Participants must be 18 and younger, but don’t even have to be enrolled in Fairborn City Schools.
Wilcox-Reigel and Greer both pointed out that they have served meals to children who live in the Village of Yellow Springs as well as the City of Xenia, particularly at the Fairborn Sprayground inside Central Park — one of the most popular Summer Lunch Program locations.
“It’s a great way for our community to come together, meet each other, and we get to know them,” Wilcox-Reigel said.
Twice per week, the Fairborn Parks and Recreation Fun Truck will roll into Central Park around the same time the Summer Lunch Program is making a stop. The two vehicles will park near each other, enticing participation for both programs.
“Everyone in the community is serving the community,” Greer said.
Faircreek Church, they said, have a number of volunteers who will pickup trash, set up play equipment and conduct games with the kids after the van moves along to its next site.
“Kids don’t come for food, they come for activities,” Housman said.
Some school districts are purchasing a food truck to conduct similar programs, Housman said, but come with a price-tag of $15,000 to $75,000. Therefore, they are prepared to work with what they have, but they said it would be beneficial to be able to operate out of a food truck so that food could be cooked up at the location.
The summer lunch program will run through Friday, July 26.
The meals are served at:
– Baker Middle School, 200 Lincoln Dr. under the big tree from 11-11:15 a.m.
– Landmark Apartments, 264 Landmark Ct. near the community room in the back from 11:30-noon.
– Wright Park, 482 Funderburg Road under the shelter from 12:15-12:30 p.m.
– Garland Apartments, 332 W. Garland Ave in the parking area from 12:45-1 p.m.
– Central Park, 222 S. Central Ave. near the parking lot facing the splash pad from 1:15-1:30 p.m.
– Fairborn Library, 1 E. Main St. downstairs from noon-12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursday only.
For more information, visit www.fairborn.k12.oh.us.