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Summer lunch program feeds nearly 500 families a week in Mount Pleasant

Volunteers for Mount Pleasant Public School's "Meet Up and Eat Up" program deliver food to a family's car on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, at Mount Pleasant High School, in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
Ellie Frysztak
/
WCMU
Volunteers for Mount Pleasant Public School's Meet Up and Eat Up program deliver food to a family's car on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, at Mount Pleasant High School, in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Every Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of local students and families can drive up in their cars to the front of Mount Pleasant High School.

With only a post-it note on their car window, they will receive nutritious meals for the entire week.

Inside a paper bag contains seven breakfasts and seven lunches, pre-packaged and ready to be eaten. Families can also get gallons of milk upon request.

Bundles of breakfasts and lunches wait to be distributed during Mount Pleasant Public Schools' "Meet Up and Eat Up" program on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, at Mount Pleasant High School, in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
Ellie Frysztak
/
WCMU
Bundles of breakfasts and lunches wait to be distributed during Mount Pleasant Public Schools' "Meet Up and Eat Up" program on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, at Mount Pleasant High School, in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

The Meet Up and Eat Up free summer lunch program is an extension of the free lunch program seen during the school year in the school district.

The summer program began at Mount Pleasant Public Schools in 2019, but the increased need for the program came during the pandemic.

“We realized quickly that feeding students was an important part of what a school district provides during the school year. We moved into doing more of a meal distribution program through the end of that school year and into that summer,” said Superintendent Jennifer Verleger.

The program today is two-fold. Families and students in the area can either:

  1. Drive up to Mount Pleasant High School on Wednesdays between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to pick up seven breakfast and seven lunch bundles.  
  2. Go to Ganiard and Vowels Elementary for the dine-in option, Monday through Friday. Breakfast is 8:45-9:45 a.m. and lunch is 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.  

The program aims to feed the community in an effort to curb food insecurity in the area.
“Students often use their time in school as helping them find that sense of security and safety. When they don't know where their meal is coming from or they don't know how to help support the stress at home. This eases that burden for them a little bit more,” Verleger said.

Verleger said that the drive-up option has been feeding 400 to 500 students each week and expects that to expand in future years.

“Since they don't have to reside in Isabella County, or even attend our schools there, there really could be a limitless need, right? So we will continue to expand programs as the need continues,” Verleger said.

On June 27, legislators in the statehouse passed a budget for the 2025 fiscal year.

According to a press release from the Governor Gretchen Whitmer's office, $200 million has been allocated “to continue providing universally-free breakfast and lunch to Michigan’s 1.4 million public school students.”

The last day of drive-up distribution is August 21. The dine-in option ends on August 9.

Ellie Frysztak is a newsroom intern for WCMU.
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