Regional
12:42 pm
Sun June 30, 2013

Summer Meal Program Feeds Kids, Parents

The mallards at Young Park might have a harder time finding food than the children who go there this summer for free meals.

“My kids are regulars,” said Ramiro Ruiz

Ruiz came today with six of his children.

“Ten altogether – but six is usually the ones that get the meals. The bigger kids think they’re too cool for it,” said Ruiz.

During the school year, Las Cruces Public Schools provides almost 25,000 meals every day, that’s breakfast and lunch, free for students whose families qualify.

“A milk a grain a protein…something else that goes with that,” said director of nutrition services at LCPS, Nancy Cathey.

Cathey has been with the school system for the past 19 years.

“We work really hard to make sure cold foods are cold, hot foods are hot and make them safe and hopefully enjoyable for the students…so in many ways it hasn’t changed,” said Cathey.

During the summer, LCPS staff and volunteers provide 50-pound boxes of food to close to 300 families who qualified through the free or reduced-lunch program during the regular school year.

Locations like Young Park are where free individual meals are also being offered to even more kids and teens in Las Cruces.

They are prepared by LCPS staff, delivered by the nonprofit Families and Youth, Inc. and funded in part by federal funds.

“And we are still feeding them in the parks, in the schools and in the rec centers….make sure it’s a healthy meal,” said Cathey.”

Those meals are available to anyone ages one to 18.

The staff at Lynn Middle School was taking their own lunch break Friday from preparing meals that would be distributed Monday.

Summer food program manager Dodie Gallegos is leading the group.

“Baking muffins, preparing sandwiches…everything that we’re going to pack on Monday.”

From Lynn Middle School, F.Y.I., Inc. will take these meals to 12 area locations to serve up breakfast and lunch.

The meals are free for anyone one to 18, but this year, for the first time…

“They’re now selling the lunches to the parents as they come with them,” said Cathey.

Cathey said those meals will be available to parents for $2 at most locations.

Even though some kids are too old to find it fashionable to eat a free meal, Cathey has a reminder: “It doesn’t matter where you live, as long as you’re between the ages of 1 and 18, you can get a free meal.”

Locations where the free meals are being served can be found at summerfoodnm.org