Albany County children have several options for free daily meals throughout the summer, which is good news for families hit by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kids Out to Lunch, a program of Feeding Laramie Valley, is scheduled to begin serving free lunch for children under 18 years old starting Monday. Lunches will be served from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday, with extra meals available on Fridays for the weekend.
Meals for adults accompanying children are also available for a requested donation of $1.50. Go to feedinglaramievalley.org for more information.
Feeding Laramie Valley founder Gayle Woodsum said lunches will be served for drive-through diners and diners on foot, and colorful signs will direct people as they arrive. To-go activities for children will be included with meals.
“We’re getting ready to try to create something we’re hoping is exciting, fun, beautiful, welcoming and also safe,” she said.
Kids Out to Lunch was started five years ago, with the aim of offering homemade, fresh, healthy food for children and families. Woodsum said they served more than 500 meals a week last summer and are planning on increasing that number this summer.
“We’re bringing on an additional chef, and we’ve expanded the whole program,” she said.
The program is scheduled at this point to continue through the end of August.
“We’re playing that by ear,” Woodsum said. “If it’s needed for us to go longer, then we will.”
Woodsum said that flexibility will extend to the program itself as summer continues.
“We’ll change as needed or open things up more if things change,” she said. “We’re excited about being creative.”
Woodsum said she and the summer crew are looking forward to offering a out-of-the-house activity for all families, regardless of income level, to do together as warm weather arrives.
“We anticipate that people are going to be eager to feel something new and hopeful, and that’s what we hope to design for people,” she said.
Meanwhile, Albany County School District No. 1is set to continue its Grab N Go meal program through July 31. Any child under 18 years old can pick up a meal bag containing lunch and breakfast every weekday. On Fridays, students can take three meal bags to cover the weekend.
Meals are available from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday at Spring Creek Elementary, Linford Elementary, Laramie Middle School and Rock River School. Additionally, a school bus makes eight stops around town from 10:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Go to acsd1.org for more information.
Scott James, assistant superintendent of state and federal programs, said the program distributed about 8,000 meals a week in May. The program has been in place since March.