MFL MarMac again offering free summer lunches

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Area kids will once again have access to free lunches during the summer through MFL MarMac’s participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program. Meals will be offered Monday through Friday, beginning Monday, June 4, in Monona, Farmersburg, Luana and McGregor.

This is the third year MFL MarMac has participated in the program, said food service director Pat Echard. Between the four locations, she estimated around 100 kids utilized the service last year.

“This year,” she shared, “we’re excited to have it right here in our lunch room in Monona.”

Up until this year, meals in the community had to be offered at Gateway Park, since it was in the only portion of town that qualified based upon the Census data used by the USDA. Because the data has been updated, the area where the school is located now qualifies, Echard explained.

MFL MarMac does not qualify for the program as a whole district because its free/reduced meal rates are not high enough.

“This year, we’re hoping more people will take advantage,” Echard said. “Before, a lot of parents didn’t want their kids traveling along the road [to reach Gateway Park.]”

Meals will be provided in the Monona school lunchroom from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. Serving will take place in McGregor, at the school playground, from 10:55 to 11:10 a.m. In Farmersburg, kids can stop by the city park from 11:20 to 11:30 a.m. Luana’s meal site, at the city park, will run from 11:40 to 11:50 a.m.

Meals will be provided on a first come, first serve basis to all children without charge, and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. There will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service.

“It’s free to everybody,” Echard stressed. “We’d like to see more. We see a lot of little kids, but not many older kids, so we’d like to see them come too.”

For parents who attend with their children, Echard said meals can be purchased for $3.25.

Meals will consist of items like cold sandwiches, hot dogs, corn dogs, pizza and hamburgers. 

“We are able to offer hot stuff too,” Echard noted. “It’s not just a cold meal.”

Fruits and vegetables will also be served daily.

Echard said she hopes the program will ease the worries of some families this summer.

“We feel there are a lot of working parents,” she said, “and this is a good way to make sure kids are fed.”

The summer food service program will run until Aug. 17. It will not be available July 2-6.

While she is set on volunteers to man the four meal sites, Echard said more volunteers are needed to help prep food in the Monona school kitchen. Duties would include making sandwiches and placing them in bags, as well as cleaning and cutting up fresh fruits and vegetables. Interested people can contact Julie Fuelling at (563) 880-1600.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form found online at www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; by fax at (202) 690-7442; or by email at program.intake@usda.gov

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