By Andy Ross
Killeen Daily Herald

With the end of the regular school year approaching, the Killeen Independent School District is preparing to kick off its summer meal program available to all children between the ages of 1 and 18.

The program, funded by reimbursements from the Texas Department of Agriculture, provides free lunch and breakfast meals, Monday through Thursday. Steve Murphy, KISD’s director of school nutrition, said he anticipates feeding around 8,000 lunch and 5,000 breakfasts a day.

“A lot of kids don’t receive three good meals a day; so with the summer meal program, they can at least get two balanced meals served to them for free, four days a week, and most of the time it’s within walking distance,” Murphy said.

While many of the children and teenagers who take advantage of the meals attend KISD schools, Murphy stressed the program is available to any person under the age of 18, regardless of their status as a student. Adults may eat but are required to pay a modest fee.

Numerous elementary and middle schools will serve as site locations for the open period between June 7 and June 30.

During July and early August, more than a dozen off-campus locations will serve meals that target specific clubs and youth organizations, but are also open to other area youth.

For several families, the program reportedly offers a crucial buffer against the added food costs that come when school is not in session.

“I know it’s a big expense when kids are not at school and able to be fed breakfast and lunch,” said Stephanie Galvan, a coordinator with the Killeen Help Center. “Many of our clients participate, and we try and make sure they are aware of it (the meals program).”

Murphy said the program is a big help for the more than 100 KISD employees who are able to continue working through the summer months.

On Mondays through Thursdays between June 7 and June 30, the meal program is available at the following KISD elementary schools: Cavazos, Clear Creek, Clifton Park, East Ward, Fowler, Hay Branch, Iduma, Maxdale, Sugar Loaf, Venable Village and Willow Springs. Four middle schools — Smith, Nolan, Palo Alto and Rancier — will be open June 9-29. For more information about off-site locations, meal times or other questions, contact the KISD school nutrition department at (254) 336-0775.