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Andrew Mcado, one of the children who attend Summer Campus at Newport Elementary School to keep his skills sharp over the summer, eats a free lunch as part of the federally funded program in the summer. (Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner)

Summer food program expands at District 833 schools

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Kids coming to the summer lunch programs at Newport and Crestview elementary schools knew that "walk-around tacos" were on Wednesday's menu. They said they were looking forward to any lunch, either during the summer or school year, that has tacos.

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The walk-around version features an open bag of Dorito chips filled with taco meat. The concoction is meant to be eaten from the bag while walking around a fair or other outdoor events but most of the kids settled for dumping the bag on their lunch trays and using silverware.

There were plenty of fruits and raw vegetables available, part of local and federal efforts to get kids to eat more of them. When asked, kids ranked carrots as their favorite, followed by kiwi fruit and raisins. About half the children said they eat broccoli.

Newport is offering lunch for the third year because more than half of the children in the city qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, a federal definition of poverty.

Children from ages 2 to 18, even those who don't attend the schools, are invited at no cost to them.

The program, funded by the federal Department of Agriculture, is administered by the Minnesota Department of Education.

Newport, through School District 833 Nutrition Services, also offers breakfast from 8-8:30 a.m. to the community and for students attending Summer Campus classes to keep up academic skills they learned during the past school year. On Tuesday last week, French toast and sausage was served.

Breakfasts in past years, for the summer and the traditional school year, have been mainly based on carbohydrates such as cereal, but Kathy Graafsgard, Nutrition Services director, in a report to the school board in March said more protein has been added.

The summer lunch program was extended to Crestview Elementary last year.

This year, breakfast is also being served to the community and kids attending Summer Campus at Pullman Elementary School.

On Tuesday, 66 children ate breakfast at Pullman, 90 were served at Crestview for lunch and 120 at Newport.

The Habbena family comes for lunch, which is served to the public at 11:30 a.m.

The kids are hungry after morning classes, said Elizabeth Catteral, Newport site supervisor for Summer Campus.

"The food is very fresh and high quality," she said.

Elizabeth Habbena, the youngest at 3 years old, liked the taco lunch and finished her milk.

It's also a good opportunity for preschoolers, such as Michael Wagner, who will attend classes for 4-year-olds this fall, to see what school is like.

"I like corn and I like coming to school," Wagner said.

There are no second helpings, but kids who don't want boxes of raisins or their milk put them on a "community" table and other children can have them.

The meals are offered from Monday through Thursday until Aug. 8

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Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
(651) 459-7600
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