Even though school is out for the summer, families lined up outside of Lincoln Elementary every day last week just before noon.
The Summer Food Service Program opened June 17 and runs through Aug. 2, according to Sandy Weikert, the director of food services at Gettysburg Area School District (GASD).
For Weikert, it’s “a great feeling” to see people standing outside, waiting for the doors to open for the program.
“We want people to come out and support the program,” she said.
The program, sponsored by GASD, provides free lunches to children, who are 18 years old and under, through federal funding, Weikert said, noting an adult meal costs just $3.60 if parents want to join the youngsters.
“It’s for all children, regardless of their household income,” Weikert said. However, there is not food available for infants, according to Weikert.
The Summer Food Service Program runs from noon to 12:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. No advance signups are needed, and people may “just drop in,” according to Weikert.
There are different food options every day, she said.
“We have an array of fresh fruits and vegetables” to serve with the meals, said Weikert.
When looking at the costs of the labor and food, Weikert said, it’s “a break-even program.”
Lincoln Elementary School, 98 Lefever St., was selected to host the program because the building is centrally located in Gettysburg Borough and is within walking distance for families, she said.
This is the 10th year GASD has offered the summer meal program, Weikert said.
The program started in the summer of 2009 “when the economy was so bad” that the number of students on free and reduced meals increased, according to Weikert.
At the time, Lincoln Elementary School saw more than 50 percent of its student population on free and reduced meals, she said.
“We felt that need,” Weikert said. “We wanted to make sure their nutrition continued in the summer.”
In the 2018-19 school year, Weikert said the school had 50 percent of its students receiving free or reduced meals.
“We know kids need a good nutrition to learn,” Weikert said.
Biglerville resident Hope Plank has been coming to the program for the past two years, she said Thursday.
The summer food program allows Plank to spend more time with her children, she said.
“The best part as a mom is then I don’t have to do dishes,” she said, with a laugh.
Plank’s daughter Brandi said she enjoys the options for lunch. On Thursday, the 9-year-old was excited to nab a slice of pizza, in addition to her fruits and vegetables, she said.
In addition to keeping youngsters fed during the summer, GASD has worked hard to maintain its meal programs during the regular school year.
For the sixth year in a row, GASD has not increased school-year meal prices at any of its buildings, said Weikert.
Breakfast prices at Franklin Township, James Gettys, and Lincoln elementary schools, as well as Vida Charter School, will remain at $1.15, while lunch prices are static at $2.25, according to the GASD school board’s June 17 meeting agenda.
The middle and high schools have breakfast meals available for $1.25, and lunch meals cost $2.55, the agenda indicated.
Adult breakfasts are $2, adult lunches are $3.60, and milk is $0.55, according to the agenda.
GASD Business Manager Brad Hunt recognized Weikert at the June 17 school board meeting for her efforts in keeping down prices.
While six years without a price hike is a good run, Hunt pointed out Weikert’s department once went 11 years without increasing meal prices.
One school board member asked about the strategies being used to maintain the price range.
Hunt attributed it to Weikert’s “common sense, and hard, honest work.”
The food services department is currently looking to fill six vacancies, which include a full-time manager position, part-time food handlers and cashiers, and substitute roles, according to Weikert.
For more information on the positions, check out the GASD website and under the Services tab.