A summertime solution

Free lunch program helps fill the gap for local families


Powellites often step up to help local children.

Throughout the school year, the Backpack Blessings Program ensures kids in need have food to take home over the weekend. On Fridays, children leave school with a backpack full of snacks and easy-to-prepare meal options.

But what about in the summertime?

Without nutritious school lunches, families face a greater need for food during summer months. That’s typically when Powell Valley Loaves and Fishes sees its highest demand, but “donations really go down in the summer, both food-wise and monetary-wise,” said Cindy Balderas, treasurer of the nonprofit group.

Loaves and Fishes has faithfully helped meet those summertime needs in our community for decades, and there’s now additional day-to-day help available.

Through a new partnership, local kids can receive free lunches throughout June and July — no strings attached.

Children can get a free sack lunch from noon to 1 p.m. on weekdays through July 27. The meals started June 4 and are served at the Homesteader Park warming house/baseball concessions building.

“It’s primarily for underserved children in Powell … but it’s open to all children,” said Powell Valley Healthcare CEO Terry Odom. PVHC has taken the lead on setting up the Summer Food Service Program in Powell.

The free meals are an example of the good that can happen when different entities join forces to serve the community.

The idea to launch a free lunch program in Powell initially came from local school district leaders. Without the summertime staff to oversee the logistics, the district’s curriculum coordinator R.J. Kost suggested Powell Valley Healthcare get involved. Kost also serves as president of the PVHC board.

The Powell Recreation District is helping out with the daily lunches in conjunction with its Kids’ Camp. The effort also includes local volunteers who have stepped forward to prep the meals each day. Volunteers are still needed, so if you’d like to help prepare or distribute the lunches, call 754-1276 for more information.

Funding for the food comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Powell’s free lunches are part of a Wyoming Department of Education program.

This partnership between local, state and federal organizations builds off of their resources and strengths. As a result, dozens of local children will enjoy free, nutritious meals.

Summertime should be carefree for all kids — a time when they can play with friends for hours, discover a new book that isn’t homework and simply relax. It shouldn’t be a time when hungry kids worry about their next meal.

Powell has once again found a way to ensure all children in our community are well fed.