Wanna go to Lunch?

Mike Owens, Staff Writer

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In its inaugural year at Northwest, the Summer Meal Program served
more meals than
any other SMSD site. Under the direction of Associate Principal Eddie LyDay, 6,000 meals were served to children and teens between the ages of one and 18.

Lyday received recognition for providing the most meals in the district at his site through The Summer Lunch Program.

“I just really enjoy helping kids and showing them opportunities and how to seize them,” LyDay said.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is federally- funded and state-administered. SFSP reimburses program operators who

serve free healthy meals and snacks to children and teens in low-income areas. Eligibility for the program requires that the sponsoring school has one income-based Title I school in their feeder pattern. Since summer school was being held at Northwest this summer, it was a viable location choice.

The Second Chance Breakfast program in the Turner School District inspired Lyday to consider expanding the concept even more. With Northwest hosting summer school, he wanted to figure out a way to bring this program to Northwest for the summer.

He worked closely with Nancy Coughenour, SMSD Food Services Director, to put the program in place.

“Let’s make this happen this summer,” he told Coughenour.

LyDay incorporated the Summer Meal Program into the summer school schedule, allowing a break for the students to eat. He sent half of them to lunch and 10 minutes later, he sent the other half. He also invited the daycare from Benninghoven to eat at Northwest, using signage to let everyone in the neighborhood know about the program.

Lyday said the momentum of the program picked up significantly through word of mouth. The reported number of lunches being served

were so high that the state actually came out to verify the numbers.

“They came out to check us out to make sure that we weren’t inflating the numbers being reported,” LyDay said.

Lyday constantly recruited children to take advantage of the program.

“Parents are working during the summer,” LyDay said. “I convinced the kids to come in and eat lunch instead of messing around. It is a financial matter and I would also talk to the older kids about saving their money for things, like tires, and eating for free at school.”

But LyDay gives credit to the staff for the success of the program.

“The food service workers were the ones that made this thing really go,” LyDay said. “We didn’t have our regular staff, but
we had other people throughout the district assigned to our building. When the lines got slow and long, I stepped in to make sure every kid could get that meal in a timely fashion.”

The program served 200 meals the first day, and then close to 300 each day after.

“A lot of credit goes to them for everything they did every day to make it work,” LyDay said