TRUSTED NEWS LEADER FOR COTTONWOOD, CAMP VERDE & THE VERDE VALLEY
Sun, July 21

C-OC food program feeds kids for free
Includes breakfast, lunch

VVN/Philip Wright
A team effort by C-OC Food Service workers is how the free Summer Food Program feeds breakfast and lunch to kids 18 and under five days a  week. Shown are, Yvonne Okamo, left, Denise Breidenbach and Terri Hanson.

VVN/Philip Wright A team effort by C-OC Food Service workers is how the free Summer Food Program feeds breakfast and lunch to kids 18 and under five days a week. Shown are, Yvonne Okamo, left, Denise Breidenbach and Terri Hanson.

There's a great meal deal five days a week at Cottonwood Elementary School. For kids 18 and under, breakfast and lunch are free.

Adults accompanying children can have breakfast for $1 or lunch for $2.50.

Denise Breidenbach, director of food service for the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District, said the program has been around every summer for more than 20 years. It starts each summer when school lets out.

During June, the Summer Food Program has been feeding a lot of kids. "Anywhere from 180 to 220," Terri Hanson, program worker, said about lunches served. "It's all home cooking," she said.

Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday in the school cafeteria. It includes a hot entrée, vegetables, fruit, a full salad bar and milk or juice for kids. Adults have the option of ice tea.

Breakfast is served from 8 to 8:30 a.m. The program serves breakfast daily to about 70 kids.

Breidenbach said the money for the program comes through the same federal agency that provides the school lunch program.

Hanson and Yvonne Okamo do the cooking, serving and cleanup for all the meals. They start at 6 a.m. and finish each day about 2 p.m. In addition to serving the meals at CES, the two also prepare sack lunches for about 100 students in summer programs at the district's other campuses.

"We don't think it's a lot of work," Okamo said. "We enjoy what we do, and we work so well together."

During the school year, Hanson is the food supervisor at Dr. Daniel Bright School, and Okamo is supervisor at CES.

Breidenbach said she has the program approved through July. But each summer, the number of meals served drops off during July.

Many of the area youth summer and day camps close, and other summer activities such as Bible School are over. So the number of lunches served can drop from an average of 200 down to about 25 per day.

Okamo said that isn't enough people to cover the cost of serving the meals.

If not enough meals are being served to keep the program going,

Breidenbach said it will probably go through June before ending.

It's a great deal - feed your kids a hot breakfast and lunch for free. Just show up.

No registration is necessary.

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