For a few years, educators and administrators in Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) tossed around the idea of serving meals for children during school breaks. After seeing several other schools successfully adopt similar programs, IPS decided to do the same.
In 2015, the district began serving lunch for all children under the age of 18 during school breaks. Since then, the program has blossomed due to better marketing of the initiative and meals being served in a variety of locations. This year, IPS will have 16 sites open, 15 of which will be schools and one location at the public library in the Irvington neighborhood. Schools with daycares on site will serve both breakfast and lunch.
Dena Bond, the food service director at IPS, oversees the entire food service department, which is responsible for serving almost 30,000 students a day.
“We serve all of our students free of charge under the USDA Community Eligibility Provision,” she said. “We serve breakfast and lunch with a fresh fruit or veggie each day. In addition to serving meals over school breaks, we have summer programs and provide after school snacks. We are pretty much serving a meal somewhere every week of the year.”
Bond’s team provides every meal option they can for students because she believes it’s their duty. IPS is able to operate the USDA program due to the poverty rate of the school district. While IPS isn’t required to offer all the meals they do, Bond and her team believe they should do everything they can to get children a hearty, healthy meal they wouldn’t have otherwise.
During winter break meal service, every child under the age of 18 will be eligible for a meal free of charge, regardless of if they are an IPS student or not.
“If your cousin from Ohio is visiting for the holiday, they can come to one of our locations and receive a meal as well,” Bond said.
To date, 4,070 meals have been served over winter break and more than 160,000 meals have been served during all school breaks since the program began in 2015. Last year during winter break, about 230 meals were served each day. This year, Bond hopes to double that, especially after learning some food pantries in the city don’t serve meals during the holidays. The district will also donate all leftover food from the lunches to local food banks.
Lunch is served
Children 18 and under — regardless of their school district — can eat lunch at one of 15 IPS schools and the Irvington Library from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 26-28 and Jan. 2-4, 2019.
• Arlington Woods School 99, 5801 E. 30th St.
• Brookside School 54, 3150 E. 10th St.
• Carl Wilde School 79, 5002 W. 34th St.
• Center for Inquiry School 27, 1545 E. 19th St. (No service on Dec. 26)
n Center for Inquiry School 84, 1440 E. 57th St. (No service on Dec. 26)
• Charles Warren Fairbanks School 105, 8620 Montery Road
• Christian Park School 82, 4700 English Ave.
• Daniel Webster School 46, 1450 S. Reisner St.
• Edison School of the Arts 47, 777 S. White River Pkwy W. Drive
• Eleanor Skillen School 34, 1410 Wade St.
• Francis W. Parker School 56, 2353 N. Columbia Ave.
• George S. Buck Elementary School 94, 2701 Devon Ave.
• Global Prep Academy at School 44, 2033 Sugar Grove Ave.
• Irvington Library Branch, 5625 E. Washington St. (No service on Fridays)
• James Whitcomb Riley School 43, 150 W. 40th St.
• Thomas Gregg School 15, 2302 E. Michigan St.