Free summer lunch program in Cottonwood
Kids 18 and under eat hot meal free
Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District Food Service Department is serving free hot lunches Monday through Friday at Cottonwood Elementary School for children 18 and under. Adults may purchase the same meals for a reduced cost of $2.75. The program is paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Arizona Department of Education.
"It's federal funds," said Denise Breidenbach, director of food service. She said the cost of the program does not come out of the C-OC District budget.
The program will run through June 30, but could be extended. "If we still have the numbers high, we'll stay open two weeks in July," said Breidenbach. She thinks that might happen.
"This has been a phenomenal start," she said. "We have started out with approximately 200 and it has stayed steady."
Breidenbach said those numbers are way above the average number of lunches served daily in years past.
"The menu always has an entrée with a fruit and vegetable bar," Breidenbach said. The meals include milk, and complimentary ice tea is provided for adults. "It's a very healthy meal."
"We encourage people to bring their kids," Breidenbach said.
And that is exactly what is happening. The local Boys & Girls Club brings about 60 kids each day. Lil' Wrangler Day Care and the Cottonwood Parks & Recreation Department also bring children.
But it isn't only day care and organized clubs that take advantage of the hot meal. Breidenbach said individual families also bring in children. Sometimes it's a baby sitter, such as a grandparent, that brings children.
Food service employees do all the preparation, cooking and clean up. The meal is served from 11:30 to 1 p.m.
All people have to do is show up. No sign up is required.
"Just come on in," Breidenbach said.
The meal program is served in the combination gymnasium and cafeteria at Cottonwood Elementary School at 301 N. Willard St.