OGDEN — Ogden School District serves its last school lunches of the academic year on Friday, but there won’t be much time before free school lunch returns to many schools in Ogden.
The district’s child nutrition program will begin serving free summer lunches just one week later, on June 1, at eight schools across the district, rather than at all schools in the district, as has been done in the past, according to Sheri Welch, dietitian with Ogden School District. Lunches also will be available for pickup at West Ogden Park.
The summer program will run from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, from June 1 to Aug. 7, according to a post on the district’s Facebook page. Meals will not be served on July 3 or July 24, according to the post.
“Families depend on breakfast and lunch at school to supplement their meals,” Welch said. “A lot of kids would go hungry without school lunch and breakfast.”
Families can pick up breakfast and lunch at the same time during the daily time window for the summer program, Welch said.
The program usually requires children to eat on site at the schools, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will now offer meals for curbside pickup, Welch said. Children are not required to be in the car, she said.
“We’ve seen parents pick up for friends, pick up for neighbors,” Welch said. “We’re not saying no to anybody.”
The food is pretty similar to what’s served during the school year, Welch said, but usually more portable, like hamburgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, chicken nuggets and turkey sandwiches — “things that kids like, things that they’ll eat that are easy to transport,” she said.
The program often lags in demand over the summer, with participation plummeting by the time August comes around, Welch said.
But demand may be different this year because of the pandemic.
“This this summer is not typical because there’s a lot more stressors going on, obviously, and some people have lost their jobs or ... hours,” Welch said. “I do think it will be different this year — well, it’s hard to say. I mean, everything’s been up in the air so much.”
When it comes to breakfast and lunch, the district is able to provide a high degree of support to its families. This is because the district has a high free and reduced-price lunch rate, Welch said.
School districts get a higher federal reimbursement rate for a free school meal than a paid one, Welch said, so Ogden receives proportionally more money for school lunches. This allows the district to provide free lunches during the school year to students who would normally only qualify for reduced-price, she said.