Church Collaborates for Summer Meal Program – Albert Lea Tribune
Joel Guttormson, pastor of Salem Lutheran Church in Lake Mills since 2016, recently took on a new role with children in the community: overseeing the summer feeding program, a state-funded program that provides free meals for children aged 1 to 18, which has been in existence since 2013.
Guttormson said funding for the program was based on the number of children in the community.
“That’s a wise percentage of kids who need the community,” said Deb Canny, a volunteer with the program who also works as part of the school’s food services staff. “And we–we’re under it.”
Guttormson said the program, which is typically run in school cafeterias or community centers across the state, ran at the nearby church due to staffing issues and building availability.
“They do a lot of maintenance and that in the summer, in the kitchen,” Canny said.
But because Salem had the certified kitchen and the space, it made sense to run the program there.
“The reason they have it here in the church is [because] it’s a central location for kids and it’s close to school,” Canny said. “It’s kind of like being in the middle of town and there’s no place in the school to have it in the summer because they’re doing construction in the kitchen and all over the school, they must be completed for the following year.”
Meals are based on the Lake Mills Community School menu.
“I’m taking these recipes and these meals and putting them into meals for the summer,” Canny said.
She said last year, on a typical lunch day, 85 to 115 children attended.
During the summer courses, breakfasts are served at the school.
“As I understand it, the school wasn’t able to make it work over the summer,” Guttormson said. “The Lake Mills Ministerial Association, which is a combination of about six different churches, has taken on the responsibility of being the administrator of the program for the past nine years.”
Breakfast offerings are in take-out format, with items such as muffins, fruit, and milk.
“I think it’s mostly for convenience because kids can have this breakfast before they start their summer school schedule,” Guttormson said.
After serving breakfast to a dozen students, she goes to the church to prepare the lunches. And after lunch, buses arrive to take the kids home, whether to Emmons, Joice or Scarville.
Canny estimated that a dozen children would eat breakfast before summer school.
Guttormson said more children participate when swimming lessons, music, baseball and other extracurricular activities resume.
“They’ll come before practice, or, if their practices are early enough, they’ll come after practice,” Canny said.
According to Guttormson, high school students who babysit will also stop by for free lunches.
Families do not have to register their children. Lunches will be served from 11 a.m. to noon Monday to Friday until August 22, while breakfasts at school will be served during summer courses (June 14-16, 21-23, 28-30, July 6, 7 and 12-14). ).
“The first year I was here, I was just surprised… [at] need,” Canny said.
Most of the kids they see for lunches are local students and everyone is or will be students, she said.
“It just seems like a good place to check in and get to know the kids better,” Guttormson said.