ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — Despite the recent inflation increase, Altoona Area School District said the popularity for its summer lunch program has gone down this year as the program comes to a close on Friday.
What’s the same from years prior is that all children 18 and under were provided free meals at Altoona Area Junior High School, Irving Elementary School, Pleasant Valley Elementary School and the Washington Jefferson Building from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and parents could get their own meal for just $3. Each meal comes with a main entrée, a side, a choice of fruit and a drink, with options changing every day.
What’s different is that lunches were provided at varying locations throughout the summer.
The district said this could be a potential reason for the drop this summer and will do further investigation on the decline on Monday.
Mary Aungst, who’s eaten with her two grandkids at Altoona Junior High almost every summer day for the past five years, said she doesn’t know why other parents or grandparents wouldn’t take advantage of the inexpensive meals.
“Where else can you go and get a lunch and enjoy [it with] your grandkids and everybody else that’s here for $3?” Aungst said. “If you don’t have the $3 and see me here, I’ll give you the $3.”
Cherrielyn Hrzic, who came with her son Thom nearly every day this summer, didn’t always get her own meal. But she said she’s glad she can get quality time with her son while he’s enjoying a complete lunch with nutritious options.
“I want to make sure he eats a lot for lunch,” Hrzic said. “You can get everything. You can get the full meal — juice, milk and fruits.”
The program ends with a raffle giveaway event on Monday on Facebook Live. The time is yet to be determined. All kids and their parents can enter the raffle for free by submitting a ticket at the last lunch on Friday. Prizes include a tablet, headphones and two bicycles with helmets, which were all donated to the district.
Other local school districts have their own free summer meal programs available. Tyrone Area School District has both breakfast from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. and lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on weekdays until Friday, August 5.
You can find out if your child’s district has a summer lunch program on the district’s website under the Food Services section.