The Catholic Diocese of Owensboro has begun its Summer Food Service Program.
Owensboro Catholic Middle School is the primary feeding site, with meals served from 11 a.m. to noon daily through July 29, with the exception of July 4 and July 26. Mary Carrico School in Philpot is serving daily from 11 a.m. to noon through July 22.
OCMS cafeteria manager Tricia Canary said that while the program is run through the Catholic Diocese schools, the free food is not exclusive to its students, with it being a “free summer meal lunch program for all schools — public, Catholic, private schools, homeschool.”
“Any children under the age of 18,” Canary said. “It’s for everybody. We’re trying to get as many kids fed as possible.”
The meals are mostly sandwich-based lunches like, Uncrustables and ranch chicken subs, Canary said, with milk and fresh fruits and vegetables. On Fridays they serve pizza. Cookies and other sweet treat are offered throughout the week.
For adults who want to get a lunch, the meals cost $4.65, Canary said.
Unlike the past two years, when the pandemic forced them to have a grab-and-go meals, Canary said this year things are getting back to normal, with children being required to eat on site.
“The state government went back to its old regulation,” Canary said. “The pickup and curbside that schools did last year, and the year before that, was strictly just for COVID purposes. We’re going back to normalcy now, where the children come and eat on site.”
Since the children have to consume the food on site, Canary said they are offering a variety of games to keep the kids engaged. The activities range from sidewalk chalk, cornhole and horseshoes to water shooters and bubbles. She also said they will have weekly themes and encourage the children to dress up when they come. The themes range from circus to Western to First Responders and super heroes.
Canary said in addition to the games, they offer face painting on Wednesdays, and the staff dresses up in costumes aligned with the weekly theme.
“We have all kinds of fun stuff,” Canary said.
The location also has shelters with fans to keep people cool and out of the weather while they eat.
Canary said she is happy with the program, as it provides a good space for kids to play with each other, something she said is extra important in light of the last two years.
“A lot of kids are coming out, and they just love it,” she said. “With the COVID situation the way it was, seeing the kids coming out of their shells and being normal, splashing through the water and playing and running around together, it’s so refreshing to see it.”
She had hoped for a larger turnout of around 80 children, compared to the 40-50 they have been feeding daily, but Canary said she is just happy to help the community.
“Every kid that leaves with a smile on their face, that’s fine by me,” she said.