Free summer lunch program now underway


By Glenn Battishill - gbattishill@aimmediamidwest.com



Misti Bills, a cook and cashier for the Delaware City School District, hands a meal to a student Monday afternoon during the Free Summer Lunch program at Woodward Elementary. Anyone under 18 is welcome to attend and get a meal, according to program coordinator Lily Wiest.

Misti Bills, a cook and cashier for the Delaware City School District, hands a meal to a student Monday afternoon during the Free Summer Lunch program at Woodward Elementary. Anyone under 18 is welcome to attend and get a meal, according to program coordinator Lily Wiest.


Glenn Battishill | The Gazette

Delaware City Schools’ Free Summer Lunch program is officially up and running for the season, but volunteers are needed.

Program Coordinator Lily Wiest said the program, which gives free meals to anyone under 18 years of age, kicked off on June 3 and will run until Aug. 9.

“Any kid zero to 18 is eligible,” Wiest said. “You don’t have to register, you can just show up and get a meal.”

Wiest said the local program is housed at Woodward Elementary, but it is not exclusive to students living in the Delaware City Schools District.

“We don’t check,” Wiest said. “We serve people from Buckeye Valley and Olentangy.”

Wiest said the food is prepared by the district’s food preparation team, and the program is paid for by a federal grant. She added Andrew’s House provides meals for adults.

“For some of our kids, it’s their only guaranteed meal of the day, which is hard to say in the wealthiest county here, but it is,” Wiest said. “It’s noon to 1 p.m. every weekday, and on Friday, we hand out a bag of shelf-stable food for the weekend.”

Wiest said attendance varies day-to-day, and some days attendance is single digits, while other days there are nearly 100 attendees.

She added the program also gives students a chance to see each other over the summer and participate in a variety of free activities.

“It’s a chance to socialize and build community here,” Wiest said. “It’s my favorite part of my job. I love being able to actually interact with the kids. Most of the people who come, come every day. You get to see people and check in and chat about their lives. There are activities every day. All of that is free.”

Wiest said the program is looking for volunteers in July, and it only takes a handful of volunteers to keep the program going.

“We need volunteers every day to make it happen,” she said. “There’s not a lot of places you can go for free here. There’s the library and parks, but if it’s raining, you don’t have a lot of choices. Thank you to all the people who have volunteered. I have a lot of people who come every week and they’re fantastic.

Wiest said interested parties can sign up to volunteer at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b044fa4ae2caaf49-free, by calling (740) 833-1619, or via email at FRC@delawarecityschools.net.

Delaware City Schools Board of Education President Jayna McDaniel-Browning was volunteering at the program Monday and said that when her kids were younger, she used to bring them to Woodward for lunch so they could see their friends over the summer.

“It really fills a need in the community,” she said. “Hunger doesn’t ago away when school is out. It’s a way for students to get their bellies full and see their friends. It’s a great resource. It’s my turn to volunteer and give something back.”

Misti Bills, a cook and cashier for the Delaware City School District, hands a meal to a student Monday afternoon during the Free Summer Lunch program at Woodward Elementary. Anyone under 18 is welcome to attend and get a meal, according to program coordinator Lily Wiest.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2019/06/web1_DSC_0187.jpgMisti Bills, a cook and cashier for the Delaware City School District, hands a meal to a student Monday afternoon during the Free Summer Lunch program at Woodward Elementary. Anyone under 18 is welcome to attend and get a meal, according to program coordinator Lily Wiest. Glenn Battishill | The Gazette

By Glenn Battishill

gbattishill@aimmediamidwest.com

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.