A free lunch program is available for all children ages 1 to 18 at Pratt High School in the commons area.

Summer time is full of activities. For children 18 and under, there are lots of calories to burn. The USD 382 free lunch program helps assure that those children are getting a nutritious and healthy meal.

The program runs through July 14 and is available at the Pratt High School cafeteria, said Heather Van Slyke, administrative assistant and food service coordinator.

Approved by the United Stated Department of Agriculture, free lunch is available from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the school. Food is available for children ages 1 to 18 and the children don't have to attend USD 382 to take part in the program. The high school is located at 400 South Hamilton with access to the main parking lot from west Fifth Street.

There are no requirements to take part in the program other than age. There is no sign-in sheet and no forms to fill out. Just come to the cafeteria with a good appetite.

The number of children participating varies from day to day. Van Slyke said one day they had 80 participate and 130 on another day. Its hard to know exactly how much food to prepare but the children sure enjoy the food.

Finding participants is not a problem. For some of the participating children, this is the only hot meal they will get during the day.

The school is on the Pratt Recreation Department pick-up and drop-off route so its handy for those wanting to advantage of the free meal. The free meal coordinates with the rec commission calendar.

"We're lucky to hook up with the rec commission," Van Slyke said.

There are art classes at the school during the serving time and children can eat before or after the class.

Adults can get a meal too but there is a $3.75 charge for adults.

Meals are kid friendly with a typical meal of a hamburger, French fries, fruit, side salad, milk and water. Another popular item on the menu is pizza. In order to qualify for federal and state funding for the program, the district has to give the children the full menu.

"We have to have a complete meal," Van Slyke said. "We have to have it to get reimbursed."

They realize that some children will not eat everything they have on their plate so there is a share table where students put things like milk for others to use.

During the free meal program, the menu rotates every three weeks. The food is prepared hot and fresh every day by the OPAA! staff that runs the district cafeteria. The food preparation staff also includes district employees.

Funding for the program is through federal and state funds. Medicine Lodge and Kiowa also have similar programs this year. The program doesn't have to be done at a school although it is handy and convenient for Pratt. One organization provides the free meals at a church.

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