Most kids don’t look forward to summer school. And being hungry doesn’t help. To bolster summer learners, St. Cloud State, Sodexo and the Schwan Food Co. once again partnered in providing free meals to local K-8 students over the summer.
“We all know the need is growing. Fortunately we have more resources and great partners,” said Tim Ness, resident dining operations manager at St. Cloud State.
Jerry Sparby ’87, a professor of teacher development, secured United States Department of Agriculture funding and another grant to augment the $20,000 provided by Sodexo Foundation. All of the foundation money is used for purchasing food.
The new funding allowed the program to hire unemployed and underemployed workers to help staff the expanded food service operation. The experience provided hospitality industry training which could lead to entry-level jobs. Sodexo hopes to repeat and improve the training process next summer.
Sparby also brought in a class of St. Cloud State students to help make sandwiches for two days of program lunches. Their enthusiasm and efficiency resulted in the preparation of 1,200 meals in a little
over 2 hours.
“They could not believe how many meals they made,” Ness said.
Feeding our Future is an annual program designed to alleviate childhood hunger, which can lead to poor academic performance.
The program operates in 24 cities across the country during the summer months when the risk of hunger is higher for students who normally rely on school-based supplemental nutrition programs.
In 2013, the local effort expanded from serving lunches to providing breakfast, too. The number of free meals served rose from 21,000 in 2012 to nearly 30,000 last summer.