TOPEKA (KSNT) – While schools offer free lunches through most of the summer, one church is going beyond to make sure children across Topeka are fed until they go back to school.
The 501 school district offers free lunches to students up to the age of 18 at locations across Topeka, including the Westminster Presbyterian Church at 1275 Boswell. But, this church in central Topeka is proud to offer free lunches after school is out.
Caryl Hines, summer lunch program coordinator with Westminster Presbyterian Church says they are the only church to offer free lunches all summer long.
“There are other churches that offer the 501 program,” Hines said. “But, I think we’re the only church in town that has our own follow-up program.”
501’s free summer lunch program runs from June 5 to July 7. The Westminster Presbyterian Church’s follow-up program runs from July 10 to August 1, right up until school starts. Hines said it’s a great way for children and families to get to know others in the community and start to build relationships.
“We want to have a friendly environment for children,” Hines said. “The kids won’t come unless it’s a fun environment and they don’t feel welcomed, so we do our very best to make all of these kids feel welcomed.”
The Westminster Presbyterian Church provides snacks for parents during the 501 free summer lunch. The church’s follow-up program will offer food Monday through Friday and always welcomes food donations.
“You don’t have to show where you live, you don’t have to prove eligibility… everyone is welcome,” Hines said. “Children can bring their families, and families can eat too.”
Hines’ said the church is hosting a summer lunch fun day June 3 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. to kick off the fun. The church will have games, snacks, face painting and pickup basketball with Topeka West High School basketball players. The event is open to everyone.