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Riverside Regional Library to feed children for free over the summer

Each summer, children wait for the last bell of the school year. Summer is an exciting time for children to enjoy play time with friends, a week at camp, a family vacation or time at the pool.

However, for many children who receive free and reduced-price meals at school, summer can mean hunger. Just as learning doesn’t end when school lets out, neither does a child’s need for good nutrition.

Riverside Regional Library is providing free meals to children during the summer as part of the Summer Reading Program. This summer, meals will be served at all six branch locations.

Director Jeff Trinkle said the lunches are available every day, whenever the library is open. There are no income requirements or registration, and families can take the meals home. Trinkle emphasized that any child or family member may come to eat.

The lunches include a tuna salad cup, sunflower kernels, raisins, enriched crackers and apple sauce. Trinkle said the lunches are “a simple, bagged lunch that you would see kids take a long time ago. It’s in a brown paper bag and we serve it with chocolate or white milk – whatever they like.”

The program has been offered every summer since 2016 and help fill the void that school lunches provide during the rest of the year. Trinkle said part of the library’s purpose is to supplement children’s educational opportunities and this fits perfectly with that goal.

“We felt there was a need in every county and every community that we serve,” Trinkle said.

He added that another goal of the program is to take away the stigma of the lunches. The same lunches will be used to feed all children to take part in Summer Reading Programs. For more information, contact any of the library branches.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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