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story.lead_photo.caption LYNN KUTTER ENTERPRISE-LEADER Lesa Owens, food service director with Aramark for Lincoln schools, hands over a free lunch to Hope Lewis, 10, of Cane Hill, last week at Lincoln High School. The meal this day was BBQ rib sandwich, sweet carrots, watermelon slice and milk. Cafeteria worker Star Griscom, center, also helps in the kitchen.

LINCOLN — Lincoln School District is one of many schools in Washington County providing a free breakfast and free lunch for children over the summer.

Most days, meals are served at Lincoln High cafeteria. For one week, meals will be available instead at the elementary school.

Valerie Dawson, director of Lincoln’s child nutrition program, said the summer meals are to provide for children’s needs.

“We’re here to feed kids,” Dawson said. “Every kid eats free.”

She said Lincoln is like many areas in Washington County. The community has children who are struggling with hunger and when school is out, meals are not available to them. About 70 percent of Lincoln students qualify for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program during the school year.

Dawson said Lincoln is scheduling its meals when many students will be on campus for different camps and activities, but the program is available for any children 18 years of age and younger. It is not limited to a geographical area and is open to any children who can make it to the school.

“We have one child who comes in every day for lunch and breakfast,” Dawson said. “I’m just glad we’re able to do that.”

Adults can purchase meals, $2.25 for breakfast and $3.75 for lunch.

Lincoln is able to provide the meals through the Child Nutrition Unit with Arkansas Department of Education.

Lincoln provides the labor and food for the meals but will submit the number of meals served per day to the state. The hope, Dawson said, is the school district will receive enough reimbursement from the state to offset Lincoln’s costs.

The number of kids showing up for each meal varies greatly according to what’s going on at the building. During the first week, Lincoln fed about 100 students each day during a basketball camp. Other days, the number of children served has been a lot less.

“If we can serve 40-60 kids a day, that’s good,” Dawson said.

Dawson said Lincoln has provided a summer meal program at least since 2010, possibly before then. She’s worked for Lincoln since 2010.

In Fayetteville, the main location for the summer meal program is Owl Creek School on Rupple Road. Free lunches are available at Owl Creek from 10:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. and snacks from 1-3 p.m. Monday-Friday.

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