Bismarck Public Schools runs free summer lunches

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 6:29 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Even though kids are out of the classroom for the summer, they still need to eat. Bismarck Public Schools has started its free summer lunch program this week, for children under 18.

At Wachter Park, kids are enjoying tacos in a bag, and their parents are happy about the nutritional value of the food.

“We love coming together and meeting other friends here for lunch. We can get a healthy lunch we can spend time with our friends, and it’s just a really easy and fun way to spend time outside,” said Lindsay Gietzan of Bismarck.

Feeding America reports summer is the hungriest season of the year for kids.

“To ensure that those kids are getting fed still, during the summer the federal government is what covers the expense of the cost for the meals. And yeah, anytime you can combine physical activity, fresh air, and a nutritious meal, it’s a win for everybody,” said Michelle Wagner, child nutrition program director.

Many of the sites are at parks so kids can get in their daily requirement of exercise as well.

“Well, the free lunch program is really, really fun. And you get to get lunch and it’s free. And also, your moms don’t have to cook,” said Ivy Gietzan of Bismarck.

“So, we do provide whole grain-rich items, low fat, low sodium items; we offer fresh fruits and vegetables and then low-fat milk for all of our meals. And then all of our meals are hot,” said Wagner.

And parents have the opportunity to pay for their own lunch and eat with their kids — with one change.

“In the past, we were able to give parents a meal and they could take it to go. That’s no longer the case. USDA has said that children must be present and they must eat their meal on site,” said Wagner.

BPS offers free lunches at fifteen parks and schools around Bismarck. They are posted on the BPS homepage.

BPS says they’re feeding a couple of thousand kids each day. The program runs from June 5 through July 18 with no meal service on July 3 and 4.