Kid’s Cafe adds third location, bookmobile
SNOHOMISH - The Snohomish School District’s summer meal program will be serving free breakfast and lunch to anyone 18 and younger and is expanding this year to offer a third mobile location to reach even more youth.
The Kid’s Café runs Monday through Friday in the summer starting June 17 and ending Aug. 30, with the exception of July 4. The meals are free and no registration is required.
Many children participate in the free or reduced lunch and breakfast program during the school year, but they don’t always know where their daytime summer meals will come from, district spokeswoman Kristin Foley said.
Anyone in the eligible age group can show up to one of the four locations to grab a meal, Foley said. Lunches will always include a salad bar and plenty of fruit, and there usually will be three main options for kids to choose from.
The program’s main location serves meals in the Snohomish High School cafeteria at 1316 Fifth St. Breakfast there will run from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., and lunch will run from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Some kids can’t always make it to the high school, Foley said, so the program expanded a few years ago and started offering mobile locations that brought the food closer to the areas of town that need it most.
Last year the Kid’s Café added sites to grab lunch at the Snohomish Boys & Girls Club, where lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to noon, and also at the Circle H Mobile Home Park where lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
This year a third location at the Three Rivers Mobile Home Park will serve lunch from 12:15 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Over the years, the number of meals served has more than tripled. In 2010, 5,234 meals were served over the summer at one location. In 2011, breakfast was added and 8,200 meals were served. In 2012, two more locations were added and 17,338 meals were served over the summer. Of those meals in 2012, 5,129 were breakfast and 12,209 were lunches.
“We’re seeing an increasing number of kids participate,” Foley said. “A lot of the kids can’t get to the high school because they might be home alone. So we felt it really important to offer the mobile solution.”
Just as meal service may be interrupted for some kids in the summer, so too are literacy programs. Emerson Elementary librarian Jenny Granger saw an opportunity at the Kid’s Cafe to alter what she called the “summer slide” where kids slip backward on some of the progress they make during the school year.
Granger received a grant from the Snohomish Education Foundation as well as several donations from area book stores and Snohomish residents to stock a van full of books, in which she’ll travel around town following the mobile Kid’s Cafe sites. She’s calling her experimental project The Book Cafe.
“Our teachers work so hard and our kids make so much growth during the year, and in the summer they lose a couple months of that,” Granger said. “And then if they’re already a year or two behind and they lose even more, holy smokes!”
In order to combat this backslide last year, Granger opened up the Emerson library for a few weeks during the summer for kids to come in and continue a bit of summer reading.
The kids that came in, though, weren’t the ones that Granger was worried about in the first place. The kids she really wanted to target either couldn’t make it in to the library, or their families just didn’t make going there a priority.
So Granger is picking up and coming to them.
“Our goal is to take away that access barrier,” Granger said. “They may not have books at home or they may not go to the public library, and for whatever reason, it’s not on their to-do list. So we’re going to make it part of their to-do list.”
She’ll pull up in her bookmobile about 10 to 15 minutes before the food van arrives so kids can peruse the selection before lunch. The kids will be able to read the books during lunch, take them home and return them after they’re done, or keep them for good.
Granger said she has hundreds of books waiting to be loaded into her van, many she hand-picked herself.
With the $1,500 grant she received from the Snohomish Education Foundation, she selected books that kids would enjoy reading over their break. She got magazines and graphic novels and some pulp fiction shorts for older kids. The grant also helps with the cost of gas, but her time is donated.
“If no one ever suggests that these kids read, they might not,” Granger said. So her mission this summer, she said, is to keep books in front of kids.
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