Monona’s Gateway Park to be a site for MFL MarMac Summer Feeding Program

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Monona’s Gateway Park will be one of the sites for MFL MarMac’s Summer Feeding Program beginning May 31.

The Summer Feeding Program will allow the district to offer free lunch this summer to kids 18 and younger—regardless of income, residency or the school they attend—who come to the sites within the district, explained Brandi Crozier, who serves MFL MarMac through the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative and is organizing the program. She spoke to the Monona Council about the program at its March 21 meeting.

Setting up the federal program has been difficult, Crozier noted, because Monona, as a community, does not qualify according to the Census data used by the USDA. However, data shows there is a need in every other community within the district, as well as the rural areas, she added.

“We didn’t qualify as a district because of Monona,” she said, so the program cannot be held at school. “Otherwise, you have to qualify by community or neighborhood.”

The program is able to move forward in Monona because the city has one qualifying neighborhood: a triangular area that includes Gateway Park, Quillin’s, Monona Wire and Art’s Way. 

Although Gateway Park is not ideal, Crozier said, at the time, it’s the best option in the qualifying area.

Meals will be prepared in the school kitchen at the Monona Center and transported to each site location within the district. Crozier said the route and way in which participants will get to Gateway Park is still being planned. Surveys are still coming in determining participation at this and other sites, she added.

Crozier said the Summer Feeding Program will run from May 31 to Aug. 1, as long as participation persists. Adults will also be able to purchase a meal for $3.75 if they would like to eat.

Crozier added that, in order to provide more activities for those attending the Gateway Park site, she’s working with the high school’s industrial technology class to build and install a Little Free Library at the park. A Little Free Library, which resembles a birdhouse with a plexiglass door, allows anyone in the community to borrow (and return) materials from it. The libraries are usually filled with donations from community members. The council gave the go-ahead for one to be erected at the park.

Walking School Bus

Crozier also reminded the council that MFL MarMac’s Walking School Bus Program will begin Tuesday morning, April 5. The program, which will be held in Monona and McGregor every Tuesday and Thursday morning through the end of the school year, gives students a fun, active and safe way to get to school. The routes in both communities, which will all have an adult volunteer, will start at the in-town bus stops; students can meet there or get picked up along the route to school. Students will still be able to ride the bus if they would like.

“The idea is to get kids walking because exercise helps with academics and behavior,” Crozier said.

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