Grand Island Public Schools
123 South Webb Road
Grand Island, NE 68802
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Free summer meals bring school communities together


School isn’t in session, but the cafeteria at Lincoln Elementary is full of smiles and chatter. Families and friends are greeted by nutrition services employees, who know many of them by name. The smell of pizza wafts from the kitchen into the cafeteria as those served carry their tray to their table.

Emily Tapia explains what she is learning at summer camp to her friend as she scoops strawberries out of a cup. Emily, a Lincoln second grader, scans the cafeteria and spots more of her friends who came to eat a free meal at school.

Summer meals are free for all children ages 1-18.

“I like eating breakfast and lunch at school during the summer because I get to see a lot of my friends,” Emily said.

Grand Island Public Schools offers the Summer Food Service Program for children ages 1-18 every summer. The program, which is offered at nine GIPS locations, offers free meals to children. Adults can also enjoy a meal for $4. Everyone is welcome to a meal at the locations, not just GIPS families.

The program sites are: Barr Middle School, Walnut Middle School, Success Academy, Dodge Elementary, Howard Elementary, Knickrehm Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Starr Elementary and Wasmer Elementary. Serving times vary at each location.

Emily attends a summer camp at Lincoln, where she learns a plethora of new things, including the anatomy of insects. She said she is always excited to eat breakfast and lunch at school.

“I get ready really fast in the morning so I can come eat breakfast at school,” Emily said.

Summer meals are free for all kids, 1-18.

Deb Hopkins, a nutrition services employee at Lincoln, said she looks forward to serving free meals to children every summer.

“I love it because it feeds our children, and I get to see former students that come in to eat,” Hopkins said.

The schools are able to offer an inviting place for families and friends to enjoy an inexpensive meal together. Hopkins said former Lincoln students often come in with their own children for the Summer Food Service Program’s breakfast or lunch. She said it’s great to see the generations of former students come back to visit for a healthy meal.

Hopkins said she enjoys seeing all the families come to the school to eat together. She has worked in nutrition services for 21 years and is full of joy when serving meals. However, to Hopkins, her job is more than just serving meals. She forms bonds with children and their families. When she and her coworkers aren’t serving meals, they’re connecting with the children and families who come to eat.

“This is an awesome program,” Hopkins said. “I just love it.”

GIPS Nutrition Services provides free meals during the summer.

Media Inquiries
Jack Sheard, Marketing & Communications
308-385-5900 Ext. 1127
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