Church Collaborates on Summer Dining Program – Albert Lea Tribune

Joel Guttormson, pastor of Salem Lutheran Church in Lake Mills since 2016, recently took on a new role in working with children in the community: Oversees the Summer Meal Program, a publicly funded program that provides free meals to children ages 1 to 18 . exists since 2013.

Guttormson said funding for the program depends on the number of children in the community.

“That’s the percentage of kids who need community,” said Deb Canney, a program volunteer who also works for the school’s catering service. “And we—we are under it.

Guttormson said the program, which typically takes place in school cafeterias or community centers across the state, is running at a church next door due to staffing issues and building accessibility.

“They do a lot of maintenance work, and that’s in the kitchen during the summer,” Canny said.

But since Salem had a certified kitchen and facility, it made sense to run the program there.

“The reason they are here in the church is because [because] it’s central to the kids and close to the school,” Canny said. “It’s like downtown and the school doesn’t have a place to spend it in the summer because they build in the kitchen and all over the school they have to finish next year. ”

Meals are based on the menu of the local Lake Mills School.

“I take these recipes and these dishes and add them to summer meals,” Canney said.

She said that last year, between 85 and 115 children participated in a typical lunch day.

During the summer school, breakfasts are served at the school.

“As far as I understand, the school was unable to host it in the summer,” Guttormson said. “So the Lake Mills Ministers Association, which is made up of about six different churches, has taken on the responsibility of running the program for the past nine years.”

A takeaway breakfast is available with items such as muffins, fruit and milk.

“I think it’s mostly for convenience because kids can get this breakfast before they start their summer school program,” Guttormson said.

After serving breakfast to about a dozen students, she goes to church to prepare lunch. And in the afternoon, buses arrive to take the kids home, whether it’s Emmons, Joyce, or Scarville.

Kenny calculated that a dozen children would have breakfast before summer classes.

Guttormson said more kids are participating as swimming lessons, band play, baseball and other extracurricular activities resume.

“They’ll come before practice or if their practice is early enough, they’ll come after practice,” Canney said.

High school kids who babysit will also drop by for free lunches, Guttormson said.

Families do not have to register their children. Lunch will be served from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm Monday to Friday until August 22, and school breakfasts will be served during the summer school (14-16, 21-23, 28-30 June, 6, 7 and 12-14 July). ).

“The first year I was here, I was just surprised… [at] the need for it,” Kenny said.

Most of the kids they see at lunch, she says, are local students, and that everyone there is either studying or will be.

“It just seems like a good place to check in and get to know the kids better,” Guttormson said.

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