La Crosse schools prepare for summer meal program

Officials expect to serve over 50,000 meals this summer

Thursday marks the last day for students in the school day of La Crosse, meaning school cafeterias will soon be empty as well.

Each school year thousands of students rely on school lunches to help them grow and learn.

But just because the school year ends doesn’t mean a hot meal becomes any less important.

“They talk about the summer slide and learning, and that’s when kids lose some of the information that they learn during the school year, and it’s the same thing with nutrition,” said Lyn Halvorson, the La Crosse school district’s nutrition supervisor .

That’s where the school district’s federally funded summer food program comes in.

“The meal is very similar to the school year,” said Halvorson. “There are five components. We have fruits, vegetables, a protein, a bread item and milk with every meal.”

The district expects to provide over 50,000 meals this summer in eight school locations. District officials said any child is welcome, regardless of their family’s income.

“Any child 18 or under may come here,” said Halvorson. “They don’t even have to be in Wisconsin.”

It’s a program that has only grown over time.

“We started the food service program in 1990, and we started at two sites, and we served about 17,000 meals that first year,” said Halvorson. “So roll ahead a few years, we’ve been doing this for a long, long time. Last year we did 55,000 meals at eight sites.”

Meanwhile, places like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse use those school sites and other ways to help feed kids this summer.

“During the summer, we open at 7 in the morning for some families, so we take kids for breakfast, and that’s always at a school site, and we also take students to lunch, which is also at a school site. In the afternoon, we’ll feed them here,” said Mike Desmond, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse.

While they may be different organizations, both have one goal in mind.

“When children don’t have meals after the regular school year is over, those kids are still hungry,” said Halvorson.

“That seems to be the formula now for success in La Crosse,” said Desmond. “You don’t have to do it alone, you just have to find the right partners.”

The school district’s summer food program begins next Monday.

Here’s a complete schedule of the summer lunch program.

Emerson 7/6-7/29
Breakfast: 7:30-8:30 MF
Lunch: 11:30-12:30 MF

Lincoln 6/6-7/1
Lunch: 11:30-12:30 MF

7/6-7/29
Breakfast: 7:30-8:30 MF
Lunch: 11:30-12:30 MF

8/1-8/12
Lunch: 11:30-12:30 MF

Logan Middle 6/6-7/29
Breakfast: 7:30-8:30 MF
Lunch: 11:30-12:30 MF

8/1-8/12
Lunch: 11:30-12:30 MF

Longfellow 7/6-7/29
Breakfast 7:30-8:30 MF
Lunch: 11:30-12:30 MF

Northside 6/6-8/12
Breakfast: 7:30-8:30 MF
Lunch: 11:30-12:30 MF

North Woods 7/6-7/29
Breakfast: 7:30-8:30 MF
Lunch 11:30-12:30 MF

Summit 7/6-7/29
Breakfast: 7:30-8:30 MF
Lunch: 11:30-12:30 MF

Spence 6/6-8/26
Breakfast: 7:30-8:30 MF
Lunch: 11:30-12:30 MF